Friday, December 26, 2014

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

It's not often that one can wrap up the end of the reading year with an excellent book, much less the best book one has read all year.

Boston Girl is an unforgettable story of a Jewish women growing up in Boston during the early twentieth century. Addie Baum shares this coming of age story with her granddaughter taking her back in time to the year she was born, 1900.

Addie's family immigrated from, Russia seeking a different life, one free of poverty and violence but sometimes the things you think you left behind come with you. Addie's parents are strict, suspicious of the American culture and old school but Addie is spunky and her rebellious nature makes her life an interesting one.

It all started rather innocently. Addie joins a reading club for Jewish Girls and these young girls show Addie a different world, lifestyle and class of people. She is also introduced to a variety of things such as, vacations, hiking and tennis! This is where Addie discovers how to be her own person.

Boston Girl also details the lives of her other family members. Her soft spoken passive older sister, her wild for the times older sister and her strong willed parents. This is a multi- generational story that reveals secrets from the past. A variety of topic are covered ranging from WWI to sweatshops. Most importantly this is a story of life. Be prepared to be engaged and fall in love with, Addie.

I am neither a  Bostonian or Jewish but I felt like Addie Baum was my grandmother! Diamant knows how to create characters. This is the first book of hers I've read and I feel as thought I've been missing out on some great stories. I can hardly wait to see what she had in store for me with her other books

 Don't let the cover sway your judgment. I almost skipped this book purely based on not liking the cover.

Grade: A+++

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie is the first novel published by Stephen King and it is a harrowing read. Most of use know the story of, Carrie, we've watched the movie(s) and been entertained by it but if you want to get down to the  true horror of it, you must read the book. I'm not going to give a synopsis of this novel because it's a huge in pop culture and it doesn't need one.

King pieces, Carrie's story together though a variety of outlets, such as the court case, articles, reports and first hand accounts. Carrie's story is so much more than a story of horror but one of tragedy and abuse.

You get so much more from the book than the
movie(s). You learn that, Carrie White didn't go "crazy", she feel victim to a power she couldn't control, a power she knew nothing about, a power hidden in her ancestral history.

I don't know how, King does it but he captures the fear that many young women experience. The fear of the first menses, the fear of being undressed in front of others and completely vulnerable. He gets what it is like to be disgusted and annoyed with another female and he hits all of it spot on with the opening of this book. The shower scene is iconic and captures adolescence at its worst.

 Carrie isn't, King's best written novel nor my favorite of his but it captures the essence of the great writer he would become. It shows his ability to get people, to write characters and to create a story that will keep you fully entertaining and wondering, how the hell does he come up with all these ideas. You get an appreciation for the writer he was and is. This is a book you should take the time to read. It a short, fast read that will change how your view the story of a teen girl named, Carrie White.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

 Seventeen year old, Ashley is a victim of bullying. The bullying is relentless and painful and she really has no safe haven because her mom is guilty of making her life just as miserable as her peers.

Her only friend, Matt is her confident but when Matt starts to date one of her tourmenters, her life becomes more complicated and painful especially when her secrets are made public.

Her biggest secret isn't that she is in love with Matt but that she can look in the mirror and speak with her 23 year old self.  Future, Ashley isn't very forthcoming and as a result of this, Ashley may continue to make the same choices that have her future self in a bit of a pickle.

Ashley reveals her life story to her therapist in hopes for release but she needs to confront a variety of things in order to heal herself.

Salter has done an excellent job are portraying the pain that comes along with being a victim of bullying. The pain of not having a place in the world and feeling hopeless however I think it could be a more realistic, stronger read without the future self in the mirror. Expect a somewhat cliched ending.

Grade: B-

Monday, December 15, 2014

Project Paper Doll : The Rules by Stacey Kade

This book sat on my nightstand for 9 weeks! That's right, 9 weeks! I don't know what took me so long to actually read it. I just kept putting it off in favor of other books and I'm glad I finally got around to it because it turned out to be much better than I anticipated.

Ariane Tucker is a human/alien hybrid. She was created in secret, inside of a genetics lab. She escaped and in order to survive she must follow five simple rules set forth by her adoptive father.
The rules are:

            1. Never trust anyone.
            2. Remember they are always searching.
            3. Don't get involved.
            4. Keep your head down.
            5. Don't fall in love.

Ariane is hiding in plain sight, just miles away from where she was tested, tortured and created. For, years everything has been smooth sailing until she starts to break the rules. One broken rule after another leads to a cataclysmic events and not everyone will make it out alive.

Kade has written "Project Paper Doll" from the alternating points. The transitions are smooth and each character has their own voice. The book starts slow and builds up. There are some predictable elements but it doesn't necessarily take away from the story.  The last quarter of the book left me hooked and I look forward to reading the next installment, "The Hunt".

I have only one issue with this book and I can't quite put my finger on it. I feel as though I have read this book before (I haven't) or that I have read something very similar to it. Perhaps it is just an accumulation of novels, I've read. Did anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Grade: B+

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Westerfeld has taken two beautiful stories and weaved them together to form one. Expect to be mesmerized and fall in love with the main character, Lizzie.

Afterworlds is told in alternating chapters. You get to experience, Darcy's world as it is happening and the world of the characters in the book she is writing.

Seventeen year old, Darcy has been giving the opportunity most writers only dream about, a luctrative, two book publishing deal. She used this as an opportunity to defer college and move to, New York City to live as a novelest. 

Lizzie is the main character in the novel she is writing, titled, Afterworlds. Lizzie is the lone survivor of a terrorist attack and she can drift between the worlds of the living and the dead. She finds out that a dead little girl named, Mindy has been living in her home and she becomes her protector.

This is a compelling coming of age novel that that will keep you turning the pages. It's 600 pages!!! The premise and setup are unique. I hope, Westerfeld writes a sequel because I am itching to read more about Lizzie and Darcy!

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 7, 2014

China Dolls by Lisa See

China Dolls is an interesting historical novel that takes place right before, during and after WWII.  It is about three young Asian American women, who become friends and grow up together. Each women gets to tell her own story. See makes their voices distinct and each character has their own unique storyline however their were moments in which, I had a difficult time believing in their friendship. It felt forced and unrealistic.

Normally, See writes a novel that pulls you in and grabs your attention from page one to the very end but China Dolls has a very different feel to it. It's like a riptide, it pulls you in and then pushes you out.  It isn't as engaging as, See's previous novels. I've come to expect so much more from, See and as a result of this, the book falls flat the saving grace is that it is well researched.

Grade: C

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Diary of A Pissed Off Flight Attendant by Sydney Pearl

"Sydney Pearl" needs to leave the airline industry. She is bitter, angry, self centered and hates everyone who doesn't fit into her standards. She isn't nearly as funny as she thinks she is. I was expecting humorous stories and laugh out loud moments instead I got one ugly rant after another.

No job is perfect but if one person is so unsatisfied with every aspect except the company perks, that person should seriously considering stepping back for a moment and analyzing their life and job. I like to think that, Pearl just took the worst moments and expanded upon them.

The complaining is so in your face, you don' have time to actually analyze the book. Traveling is never fun and the author hit some valid points but she has an uncanny ability to make you dislike her Her "pissed off" attitude is distracting and had she presented her experiences in a less hostile manner this book could have been something I could recommend. The best part of this book is that it was given to me for free to review. Take a pass and read something else.

Grade: F

Wounded to Death: Stories of Gender Violence by Serena Dandini

Wounded to Death is a collection of monologues/stories about femicide. The monologues are told from the victims voice. The victim's death isn't always a result of domestic abuse it can be something as simple as being a female fetus, unwanted because the fetus is not male. It can be a woman who has lost her life due to "honor killing" or a woman who is brought into a country illegally to work, as a maid, nanny or prostitute.

The statistics on femicide are astounding.  "Just think: every four hours, an Indian bride is killed by her in-laws for not delivering the agreed-upon dowry" (pg. 57), Russia has only ONE domestic violence crisis center for every three million women and  in Italy femicide takes place every two or three days, giving it the highest ranking for the killing of women.

Their are no names giving the monologues more power, move voice because there is no infamous name recognition or face. You can easily picture someone you know and love being subjected to these horrific acts. The monologues are heart breaking, especially when you take a moment to realize that while you are safe and comfortable someone else is in agony or dying due to the hands of another human.

Dandini has tackled a difficult subject matter with finesse and heart. This read is also educational, I learned about the use of  Oradexon on girls and young women in the sex industry. Look it up you will be outraged. My one complaint about this book is that it does not discuss femicide in the United States.  I looked it up and will leave you with this statistic Femicide,  is one of the top five causes of premature death in the United States for young women from 20 to 49 years old.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Revival by Stephen King

 “Once upon a time, I would have said we choose our paths at random: this happened, then that, hence the other. Now I know better. There are forces.”
Stephen King,  Revival

Revival is an excellent read, a real page turner. It is essentially about the lives of two characters who's lives cross path over and over again. There are a lot of minor characters that play major roles but the majority of the book is about Jamie Morton and Charles Jacob.

Jamie is only six years old when he meets, Charles Jacob. Jacob's is the new minster in town, he has a beautiful wife and young son. They become  part of the community rather quickly until a tragic and rather graphic accident takes place irreversibly changing the lives of Jacobs and those with whom he has encounters with. Jamie being the main person of interest in, Jacobs oddly disturbing life.

 I don't want to reveal anymore of the plot, it is something you had to discover on your own. I long ago quite reading the synopsis of book by my favorite authors and implore you do to the same. It adds an entirely new dynamic to the reading experience when you don't know what your getting.

Set a few hours or days aside because once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down!

Grade: A+

Sing you Home by Jodi Picoult

Zoe and Max have spent thousands of dollars in trying to conceive a child. After Zoe's most recent miscarriage her life starts to fall ...