Good Reads – April 2014

ReadingBench

Hello friends and fellow bookworms!  I have no idea where all the extra time came in this month…but I had an excellent month of reading!
My first read was Absolute Power by David Baldacci.  The first lines: “He gripped the steering wheel loosely as the car, its light out, drifted slowly to a stop.  A few last scraps of gravel kicked out of the tire treads and then silence enveloped him.  He took a moment to adjust to the surroundings and then pulled out a pair of worn but still effective night-vision binoculars.  The house slowly came into focus.  He shifted easily, confidently in his seat.”  Summary from Goodreads: “In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping Luther Whitney, a career break-in artist, behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and Luther is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal murder involving Alan Richmond, the president of the United States, the man with…Absolute Power.”  My thoughts: I didn’t love it…but the book was interesting enough to finish.  The concept that the President of the United States is involved in murder and cover up was very intriguing.  The story lines came together very well, but perhaps my hopes were too high as this was my first Baldacci novel.  (3/5 Stars)
My second book was Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs. The first lines: “We rowed out through the harbor, past bobbing boats weeping rust from their seams, past juries of silent seabirds roosting atop the barnacles remains of sunken docks, past fishermen who lowered their nets to stare frozenly as we slipped by, uncertain whether we were real or imagined; a procession of waterborne ghosts, or ghosts soon to be.  We were ten children and one bird in three small and unsteady boats, rowing with quiet intensity straight out to sea, the only safe harbor for miles receding quickly behind us, craggy and magical in the blue-gold light of dawn.”  Summary from Goodreads: “The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.” My thoughts: I loved it just as much as the first, finishing it in two days.  The children still remind me of a younger version of X-Men.  And I love X-Men!  Not AS intriguing as the first one…but still a very solid story line.  I would definitely recommend if you are looking for a story that will suck you in and you don’t mind not knowing where it will end.  I also loved how the plot was interlinked with the peculiar vintage photos throughout.  (4/5 Stars)

My third read of the month was the much awaited The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  The first lines: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to think about death.  Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer.  But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer.  Depression is a side effect of dying.”  Summary from Goodreads: “Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.  Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.  Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.”  My thoughts: I devoured this book.  My first status update at 35% of the book read: “I can’t put this book down. There’s an incredible sadness that surrounds it…but it’s also amazing and intoxicating at the same time…”  My second status update, at 100% read in just 2 days, and final thoughts: Absolutely loved. Full of so much impending sadness…but beautiful and honest and raw…and I literally could not stop reading. There are sentences that you just can’t help smiling about…and there are scenes that are so witty and sarcastic that you literally laugh out loud. Although some of the language was more advanced than I ever envisioned for myself at the tender age of 16…it felt, well, right. And it was eloquent and heartfelt and the love shown by all characters so real. Very, very sad and might make you cry…but again, part of the reason I loved it.  (5/5 Stars)

I then squeezed in Gillian Flynn’s new novel Dark Places The first lines: “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.  Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.  It’s the Day blood.  Something’s wrong with it.  I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders.”  Summary from Goodreads: “Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.  The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.  As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.  My thoughtsI’d have to give this book 3.5 stars. I can’t describe it accurately…but it’s creepy (hence the title…”Dark”).  I like Gillian’s writing…and I like her characters…but there are a few scenes were just a bit too disturbing to me. Granted – they certainly help make the story – but overall it is definitely not a light read.  (3.5/5 Stars)
I have quite a queue of Amazon free reads built up on my Kindle…so I decided to take a break from my true “To Be Read” list and give one a try.  I selected Farsighted by Emlyn Chand (Farsighted #1).  The first lines:Our hero is about to embark on a journey.  Life as he knows it is quiet, boring, and predictable, but it’s also comforting and familiar.  That will soon change.”  Summary from Goodreads: “Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and… oh yeah, he’s blind.  Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.  Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future.”  My thoughts: This was one of my first Amazon free-reads selections…and has been sitting in my kindle for over a year now. The overall theme is young adult…paranormal…romance…but to be honest, the book didn’t really do anything for me. The most intriguing part of the book was the fact that the narrator is a blind boy…and his narrative is good, despite “visual” descriptions.  (2/5 Stars)
I downloaded Attachments by Rainbow Rowell from the local library, as I have read nothing but raving reviews about this author, and wanted to give her a try.  The first lines:From: Jennifer, To: Beth, Subject: Where are you?  Would it kill you to get here before noon?  I’m sitting here among the shards of my life as I know it, and you…if I know you, you just woke up.  You’re probably eating oatmeal and watching Sally Jessy Raphael.  E-mail me when you get in, before you do anything else.  Don’t even read the comics.”  Summary from Goodreads: “Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.  Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.  When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.  By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.  What would he say . . . ?” My thoughts: This was a pretty unique book…and I loved the fact that it was set in 1999 (with all the Y2K craziness) at a newspaper that was slow to embrace the digital age.  The humor lies in the banter between best friends Beth and Jennifer. Their exchanges were so much fun to read (real comfort and even brutally honest at times) – and completely reminded me of the easy conversation tangents I have with some of my friends. (4/5 Stars)
I finished up the month with another quick read that has been on my radar for a while now – Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Heather Poole.  The first lines: “Okay, where’s crazy.  That’s what I’m wondering every time I board a flight in my flammable navy blue polyester.  In flight, I’ve seen passengers get naked, attempt to open an emergency door in order to get off the ‘bus,’ reach inside a first-class meal cart and eat leftover food from a dirty plate, and get hit on the head by luggage – then threaten to sue the airline because the injury had affected their psychic abilities..”  Summary from Goodreads: “A charming, funny insider’s look at the life of a flight attendant, from coping with crazy passengers to finding love at 35,000 feet.  In the spirit of books like Waiter Rant and Kitchen Confidential, blogger and flight attendant Heather Poole gives the inside scoop on how to be the most hated passenger on the plane, whether passionate affairs with pilots are really as frequent as you’d think, what it’s like flying in a post-9/11 world, and everything else passengers never knew.  Readers will learn what it’s like to live in a flight attendant crashpad in “Crew Gardens,” Queens, where the bedrooms are crammed with bunkbeds and the neighbors get the wrong idea about why attractive women are coming and going at all hours. They’ll find out why it’s a bad idea to fall for pilots, and-in Heather’s case, at least-why it can be a good idea to fall for business class passengers. They’ll watch passengers and coworkers alike get escorted off the planes by police, and learn insider secrets on starting salaries, FA schedules, celebrity misbehavior, and much more. Packed with sometimes unbelievable and always hilarious stories, Cruising Attitude intermingles the best of galley gossip with Heather’s own experiences of life in the sky.”  My thoughts: This was a so-so book giving an inside look at the life of a flight attendant – which is not as glamorous as one might think.  I was hoping for more “stories”, but if you want to know what it’s like to really work as a flight attendant, this book seems to give a good blueprint. (3/5 Stars).
April2014
What has been your favorite read of 2014 so far?  Any recommendations for me?
Jen
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One thought on “Good Reads – April 2014

  1. I read Absolute Power years ago and loved it. It is still one of my favorite books! Clint Eastwood stars in a movie based on the book, and even though I always like the books better, the movie was pretty good. Can’t wait to read The Fault in our Stars and see that movie as well.

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