Friday, April 27, 2012

Book review: If Only It Were True

Hey-o! I just wanted to say hi before my normal book review post.

I've been super busy lately, leaving less time to blog. I promise there will be more real posts soon. Like, next week.

In the meantime, here's my weekly book review. I don't know if you guys even read them, but they're one of the things about blogging I've really come to love doing. So they're gonna stick around.

I promise promise promise this is the last negative review for a while. I've really enjoyed the books I've read since this one!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! <3


If Only It Were True by Marc Levy

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

What do you do when you find a stranger in your closet; particularly when she's surprised that you can even see her -- and she can disappear and reappear at whim? What if she then tells you that her body is actually in a coma on the other side of town? Should you have her see a psychiatrist or should you consult one yourself? Or do you take a chance and believe in her, and allow yourself to be swept up in an extraordinary adventure?

This is the beginning of the dilemma that Arthur, a young San Francisco architect, is faced with when he discovers Lauren in his apartment.

Arthur is the only man who can share Lauren's secret, the only one who can see her, hear her, and talk to her when no one else so much as senses her presence. So when doctors prepare to end Lauren's physical care -- which would destroy the magical bond she and Arthur cherish -- he must find a way to save her. For, after all, it is only her love that can save him.

Have you all seen the super cute Reese Witherspoon movie Just Like Heaven? It was one of my faaaaavorites in high school--a fun, quirky, sweet chick flick. Turns out it was based on a book called If Only It Were True.

So when I was looking for an audiobook for my trip home for Easter and I found the book version of Just Like Heaven, I was excited. I also got The Kite Runner, but decided to listen to Just Like Heaven (which I later discovered was originally called "If Only It Were True") first because I thought it would be lighter and more fun.


Guys, don't read this book. Probably. I mean, it has good reviews on Goodreads, so I guess some people like it. But seriously, don't. Here are a few reasons I didn't like it:

1. Holy sentimentalism, Batman! The whole book is overly dramatic. Granted, it makes sense to have an increased awareness of the value of life when you're kind of a ghost and don't know if you'll ever be alive for real again. But man, did this book drag. When I think of it I think of The Notebook (which I didn't like, btw) dipped in molasses and dragged through a vat of icing. Yup, that's what I'm going with. It was just too much.

2. There was a lot of the whole creating-situations-and-or-characters-for-a-singular-reason business that I don't like. For example (spoiler alert!): Arthur at one point  steals Lauren's comatose body for a while. Since he ends up giving it back and not getting in any trouble, the only point I could find to him stealing her was to force him to go to his mother's old house and remember and be sad and force his relationship with his mother to the front. Which brings me to my final point...

3. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh the mother stuff! It was just awful. No one talks like the mom does. No one. And it didn't relate to the Lauren stuff and was just stupid.

The book is also sprinkled with terrible writing, like when we conveniently find out only right before they wanna have sexy time that Lauren can change (or eliminate) her clothes just by thinking about it. Which she does and she's suddenly naked -- then she stands there naked and explains that she can do it. Isn't that awkward? I thought it was terribly awkward.

Anyway. Maybe read this book. But probably don't.

Has anyone else read Just Like Heaven or If Only It Were True? What did you think?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that's calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive -- and then some. But Susie isn't ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.

Linked up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde again for Book Club Friday!

Guys, I know this book sounds depressing. And it is sad. But somehow I loved it.

I was waiting to post a review because I wanted to get ahold of a physical copy of the book since I listened to it on audio. Well, that hasn't happened yet, and I don't want to forget why I loved this book, so I'm going to try to write this anyway.

The Goodreads page for The Lovely Bones is full of negative reviews, so I guess take mine with a grain of salt.

1. I wrote here about a quote I found in this book that talks about the main character's mother. This is only one example of the beautiful portrayal of the mother, Abigail. But really, all of the characters are so dynamic, so intricate, so interesting. Sebold takes each character and charts their reaction to Susie's death and each one is so different and each is so believable. This book is about  the rape and murder of a young girl, yes, but to me, it's more about grief and reaction and what do people do when their world falls apart.

2. I loved how she showed grief and reaction for Susie's family but also in the lives of many others -- a classmate she'd only spoken to once in her life, the boy who had a crush on her and gave Susie her first kiss, that boy's mother, some of the neighbors. It shows the spiderweb of the lives one person touches and the way every action affects people you'd never expect to feel the ripple caused by what you did.

I think the essence of the book is shown in the quote from which it was named:

"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections-sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent--that happened after I was gone."

3. I love, love, loved the grandmother. She was hilarious and perfect. I wouldn't mind if I grew up to be her.

4. I could see myself in Lindsay, Susie's sister, who works hard to protect the rest of her family from feeling the grief too much.

The book did have a weird ending--starting around chapter 22, I think. I haven't quite decided what to think about a few chapters there at the end. I don't think I liked them.

But the rest of it was so beautiful to me that I guess I don't quite care. I loved it anyway.

I recommended the book to my mom and she said it didn't sound like her kind of book. Like I said, it is sad. And there is rape and murder, though it isn't super graphic and it all happens pretty quickly. But this book... This book shows relationships, love, and grief more clearly than I've ever seen them presented.

Have any of you read The Lovely Bones? I'd love to hear what you thought, especially since reviews on Goodreads are so polarized.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

I think I found this book through recommendations from Goodreads. It's often recommended for people who like the Hunger Games trilogy. I'm going to jump right in to likes and dislikes.

1. The plot of the book sucks you in, very quickly and very strongly. There were surprises throughout the book and it was one of those audiobooks I take inside with me to listen because I don't want to wait until I'm in the car again. Even though there was a lot I didn't like about it, I couldn't stop reading it.
2. I love Chuck. If you read it, I bet you will too.
3. I listened to the audio book and one of the characters had an Irish accent. Awesome.
4. This book has the most creative bad guys I've ever seen ever. They are called Grievers and they are giant slugs with machinery they can suck into their yuck or spit out to fight. Seriously.

1. James Dashner just doesn't seem to be a good writer. His story line was great. It had me hooked. But his style leaves a lot to be desired. I'll say more--
2. Thomas, the main character, seems to have no personality. He's actually kind of annoying. And since I don't like him, I don't really care what happens to him at all. Which is when I would normally stop, but there was so much mystery to it all that I kept going.
3. Dashner repeats things a lot. He harps on the details of Thomas' memory loss over and over, well past the first half of the book. We get it before then. We really do. He also seems to forget what he's already written? I don't know how that works. But Thomas will hear or see something and then a little while later see it again and be surprised and you're like, dude! You already saw that!
4. Thomas also seems to ignore really obvious clues as to What is Going On in favor of being clueless.

I feel like I keep reviewing books that I'm telling you not to read. Which is not as fun or helpful as getting a book recommendation. I have a feeling a lot of people would really enjoy this book. It just wasn't for me. So yet another "eh" book for you all.

Linked up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde again for Book Club Friday!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book review(s): The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

by Stieg Larsson

Descriptions and other reviews can be found here and hereBecause I read these books one after another and because the plot stretches from one into the next, I've decided to review these together. You can find my review of the first in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo here.

Remember how the first book was really boring sometimes and really hard to get into and I had to try more than once to read it?

Not so with these books.

I think part of that is that a lot a lot a lot of the beginning of the first book was character development. Since these two books revisit familiar characters, we didn't need that so much. We could jump right into the action.

And boy, is there a lot of action.

I'll start with things I didn't like about the book:

1. Holy potatoes is it graphic sometimes. Yeah, the first one was too, but these were medical, physical, things-that-are-not-supposed-to-be-like-that-on-your-body graphic descriptions that had me cringing. Yuck. But that wouldn't bother some people, I guess.

2. A whole chunk at the beginning of the second book wasn't really important. Like at all. I'm thinking back, and it maybe filled some plot holes, but they could easily have mentioned a few things and moved on in a sentence or two instead of pages and pages. For those of you who have read it--Salander's time at the beach/hotel/with the dude she picks up? Why was that important? If you know, clue me in!

That being said, it wasn't boring. Larsson just spent so much time on it I thought it would be important. It wasn't. There are various other subplots (Poison Pen?) that seem to do nothing but get a character in the right place at the right time, or just get someone out of the way. I think this is lack of skill (creating a whole scenario to accomplish a small thing) covered by decent/interesting writing and details (a la Poison Pen--gets Berger out of the way for a while and is interesting enough to hold our attention, but really has nothing to do with anything except that it's another dude that mistreats women.)

3. I also don't know why they spend so much time on Blomkvist's love affairs. I get it. Ladies like him. Once again, not really that essential.

4. We NEVER meet one character who is mentioned again and again and again and I was dyyyyyyyyyying to meet. Never. Never even see her. *hmph*

I liked things too!

1. The second book is full of action. It gets you hooked and doesn't let you go.

2. There are fun/interesting characters that weren't in the other books, like Paulo Roberto.

3. We learn lots lots lots about Lisbeth's background and why she is the way she is and why she has a guardian and whatnot.

4. Once you've read all the books, read this. It's funny. :)

From looking at my what I liked vs my what I didn't like, you'd think I didn't like the books. But I really enjoyed them, enough so that I might read them again someday. I even recommend them! Woah!

If you've read them, please let me know what you thought!


PS. I'm linking up with Book Club Friday. How cool! Didn't know it even existed! Click the pic to see other book reviews!


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