Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jackie says, “I love books with complicated plots and unexpected endings. What is your favourite book with a fantastic twist at the end?”

So, today’s question is in two parts.

1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I love books with surprising or unexpected endings... but only if they make sense. If they're too out there then definitely no. Complicated endings? Again, yes, but if they make sense to me then I think the author is so smart when they can make it "complicated" or involved. But confusing, no.

One of my favorite books with sort of a twist/unexpected ending (first one that popped in my mind) is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It wasn't a "fun" twist, but it made you think (and cry!)

On another note, hopefully next week I will get back to posting Throwback Thursdays!

The First Rule

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The First Rule is the second book in the Joe Pike series by Robert Crais. This is the first book I've read by this author, and I was initially hesitant to read this without at least having read the first in the series. But it turned out it really didn't make a difference (that I could tell) and I am glad I took the chance and read this book!

Joe Pike learns of the murders of an old friend -- a fellow mercenary from their military days -- and his family. The police suspect the friend was "dirty" and that's why he was targeted as the 7th family in a line of home invasions. But Pike believes otherwise so he sets out to investigate the murders on his own. Not only does he use his sources to learn about the murders, while staying a step ahead of law enforcement the whole time, but he also ends up finding about a much more complicated plot involving a serbian mob and the lengths they will go to outdo their enemies.

The novel was fast paced without sacrificing the development of plot and/or characters that are often found in other similarly paced mystery/thrillers. The plot was involved (but not confusing) and had some surprising twists. I enjoyed how there was more than one "mystery" that had to be solved and how things kept unfolding. And I loved Joe Pike. Imagine Jack Bauer from 24... totally brave and physically capable, but also a good, well-intentioned guy, haha. It was so fun to read about a character like his. The sources he uses are sometimes a little too convenient, but it adds to the story and makes it fun to read.

I definitely recommend this book to those who love mystery/thrillers, actions, or shows like 24, haha.

The Summer We Fell Apart (Blog Tour)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Summer We Fell Apart is a wonderfully well written novel by debut author Robin Antalek. In this book, she tells the story of the dysfunctional Haas family; the mother and father are distant from the four children who each grow up to have issues of their own.

What I found interesting immediately upon reading was the layout of the book. It is told by each of the four children and then a last part by the mother. Rather than alternating storylines throughout the book like many books do, it was told 2-3 chapters in a row by each child. Each chapter also takes place in different times. It confused me for a second when the second chapter took place about 6 years after the first chapter, but I caught on quickly enough. The manner in which it was narrated also allowed the author to reveal more and more information about the family as each adult child's perspective was told.

The author's prose was also engaging and flowed well. I opened the book up when it arrived and read the first paragraph and immediately wanted to sit down and read more. While in the beginning I worried that I would get bored without more action, as this is a character driven novel, the writing compelled me to read more and the family's story unfolded for me. The characters stuck with me after reading and I thought the peek into their family was fascinating. Robin Antalek truly did a fantastic job writing this book and I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy reading about all the intricacies of familial relationships. You can check out her website here, where you will also see that this book was chosen as Target's Breakout Book out in February! I highly recommend this book!

I'd like to thank TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book!

Sunday Salon

Hi everyone! This is going to be a quick Sunday Salon, but thought I'd post it real quick while I have a minute!

I actually have been reading... but you wouldn't know by my lack of reviews, haha. Today I am finishing up The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek for a blog tour tomorrow. It's good so far and is laid out interestingly. I also recently read The First Rule by Robert Crais and am working on that review. And I still have some reviews on books I read back in December to do, haha.

My most exciting news is that I am officially registered to attend the Book Blogger Convention in NYC in May!
I still have to make the travel arrangements, but that will be a couple months out. My husband will be joining me and then we'll be spending a few extra days in the city. I <3 NYC!!

Book Blogger Convention

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Have you all heard about the Book Blogger Convention??

It is going to be the day after BEA ends. Do any of you plan on going? I thought it might be fun and am considering going, even if I only fly up to NYC for a day or two. (Can't make it a long trip because we're planning a trip to Chicago in late April/ early May as well as another full NYC trip at least a few months after that if not later).

Anyway, I would possibly like to go, but only if I am going to know other people there/ meet other bloggers whose blogs I read and with whom I interact regularly!

Half the Sky

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Half the Sky is an intense and powerful book written by pulitzer prize winning journalists (and married couple) Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They researched the plight of women all over the world, but specifically those in the countries that are especially oppressive to their women. Oppression towards women is found in many different manners -- human trafficking, sex slavery, maternal mortality, and all types of misogyny in general. Each chapter describes a different manner of oppression and outlines the life of a specific person in that situation. The second part of each chapter then describes some type of grassroots effort that has been made toward that effort and the results of it.

With equal parts sadness and inspiration, I read this book and felt proud to be a woman. But I also felt extremely lucky to be a woman who was born and raised in the United States; one who has never had to worry abut even a slight fraction of what these women deal with on a daily basis. The women profiled in this book possess unbelievable strength and resiliency. There were times all throughout the reading of this book that I realized the things I complain about on a regular basis are so trivial. These women are so courageous and ambitious. Even with everything they go through, when they are given an opportunity they take advantage of it to its full potential. A woman given the chance for an education doesn't just hope for a high school education (which is years more than the average woman in her area is educated) but aims, additionally, for a bachelor's, master's, AND a PhD. And here I am complaining about working 10 extra hours a week and then coming home to my nice, cozy home. I could learn a thing or two from these women.

Despite the sadness I found in these stories, and frustration in limited ability to help, I found myself gravitating toward the stories of these women and wanting to be more involved. The journalists who covered these stories are role models as well. Their passion in telling the truth of these women is admirable, especially considering all that they risked and put themselves through in finding these truths. In a video aired on Oprah, Nicholas Kristof showed an afternoon he spent with a warlord (in what country, I can't remember) talking about women's rights. What I found interesting in that video was how when the warlord asked Mr. Kristof to stay for dinner, there was fear and he tried to get out of it, saying it would be dark soon. This only exemplified to me that danger that he was in. I wouldn't be anywhere near as brave as he in searching out his information.

What I also found fascinating about this book was the look into how the women in these countries have been best helped. Rather than changing laws, getting the UN involved, etc., some of the most effective methods have been those at the grassroots level. The cultures of these countries are so different that it takes a bottom-up approach to teach and help the women. What the authors found regarding this was invaluable. The book ends with a chapter on what you can specifically do to help.

This is an important read for all women, but moreso for anyone who is interested in human rights. As the authors stated, an old Chinese proverb says that "women hold up half the sky"; more than being about women's rights, it is HUMAN rights that are at stake.

This book was given to me and my fellow therapist co-workers as a Christmas gift from our supervisor. It was definitely a wonderful gift and I highly recommend it!!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My nook came in the mail today! (My hubby got it for me for Christmas but all the shipments were delayed so it just arrived).

I've had fun trying it out. My husband gave me a $50 e-book gift card today so I can put some books on it, haha!

I'm so torn about what books to put on there though, lol! I don't necessarily want to put "keeper" books on there because I want those on my shelf. Books that I will probably want to share with others are also probably ones I shouldn't put on there. (You can lend to someone else who has an e-reader but only once per book!)

What one book do you suggest I put on there??

Alice in Wonderland Challenge Nov/Dec 2009

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For those of you who completed any of the tasks for this challenge during November and December of 2009, please link your reviews on mcklinky below. If you completed more than one task, please list them separately. I will also mark them off on my spreadsheet so I can see how far you are (I'm keeping track for purposes of giving out prizes later). MckLinky is only open for 5 days (through Jan. 10, 2010) so if you don't get your review linked you can do so next month. Remember, only those who link their reviews here are eligible for prizes.

Here is the list of what people and tasks I have down so far. If I'm wrong, no worries... we have time to fix it before the movie comes out! Just contact me and we'll straighten it out. Otherwise, go ahead and link your latest reviews under MckLinky.

Sumanam -- 6 out of 8 tasks
Andrea -- 5 out of 8 tasks
Sandra -- 2 out of 8 tasks
Laurel -- 4 out of 8 tasks
Mark -- 2 out of 8 tasks

If you haven't joined yet and would like to, you can join at any time! Click on the picture above and it will take you to the page with the MckLinky sign up!

After You

Friday, January 1, 2010

I asked for After You by Julie Buxbaum for Christmas and am so glad I did! I thought of this book as a sort of coming of mid-life-age story. It's not so much the typical mid-life crisis though. The book starts off when Ellie has left her husband and home near Boston, to attend to her goddaughter, Sophie, in Notting Hill. Sophie's mother, Lucy, was Ellie's best friend and was murdered in front of Sophie one morning while walking her to school. Ellie takes her role as godmother seriously and immediately takes over the motherly role in the household. But Ellie is also escaping from troubles in her own life and during her stay in Notting Hill she learns more about who she is and what she wants from her life.

I adored this beautifully written and mesmerizing story about a woman trying to decide who she is. The relationship between her and the child, Sophie, is endearing but causes tension between her and her husband when her stay lasts longer than expected. The characters felt genuine and their feelings real. I was able to empathize and understand some of what Ellie was feeling but at the same time I understood her husband's character. The narrative slowly revealed a little more about Lucy that changed how Ellie viewed her (I never really liked her character), but we also learn more about Ellie and what's made her who she is now. Although there are a couple plot points that add to the story, this is more about the characters; and they are characters I enjoyed watching progress throughout the story.

This was a very well done contemporary women's fiction and I highly recommend it!