Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Title: Leaving Time
Author: Jodi Picoult
Pages: 398
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine (Random House)
Pub. Date: October 14, 2014

I have read almost all of Jodi Picoult's books but hadn't read any in the past few years. I picked up Leaving Time because it was chosen for book club in June. Plus, with it being about elephants, I thought it sounded really interesting.

Unfortunately, I have to say this was one of my least favorites of her books. Learning about elephants was interesting, but I found it to be a little heavy on the information sometimes and less focused on the story. I have noticed this before with her books in that she shares so much of her research; I think sometimes it's distracting and sometimes it's not, but in this case it sort of was. I also found some of it to be very repetitive. Yes, elephants grieve and have emotions, and, yes, I realize elephant mothers are the best ever and are super bonded to their babies. I felt like I was hearing these things over and over.

The story itself was good in places but weird, too. Basically, a 13-year-old girl (maybe 12?), Jenna, is looking for her mother. Back when she was little, her mother was trampled by an elephant and taken to the hospital where she left and hasn't been heard from since. Jenna manages to get a psychic and private detective to help her search for her mom. I actually didn't care that much for this mystery. I also thought I could see any "twist" that was happening and didn't care for it... Turned out I was wrong... But, I'm of two minds about the ending. On the one hand I was surprised and intrigued, but on the other hand I thought it was sort of... well... I really can't say unless you read it! But it was sort of a cheat in some ways and it wasn't my favorite.

If you love all her books I would go ahead and read this one too, but otherwise I would start with some of her others.

Mini-Reviews #4

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I decided to go back and do a bunch of mini reviews for all the books I read but failed to review over the past two years. This will make me feel sort of caught up and refreshed and maybe will help me be motivated to keep up with reviewing what I've read this year! Some of these will be very mini since I can't remember them that well. This is batch #4. 

Title: Bad Feminist
Author: Roxane Gay
Pages: 318
Genre: Non-Fiction; Essays
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: August 5, 2014

I wish I would have reviewed this one right away because I feel like I would have had some more substantial things to say. Basically, I had mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, I think Roxane Gay and I would be great friends and have some great conversations. I agree with her thought processes... generally. Some of the earlier essays had me laughing out loud. I think the funniest one was the one where she participated in the scrabble competition. The dynamics of that and the other people there was hilarious.. I hadn't even realized that was a thing! But when it became more serious, especially on the essays related to race, I found myself a little frustrated. It seemed like there were lots of complaints about things either without any type of solution offered (which I don't always find necessary) or where I didn't quite understand. We all have things we can learn about other people, and being of two ethnicities, I consider myself knowledgeable on this topic to a certain degree. But what I found, for example, was that Gay would complain about movies portraying black people as maids, etc. (which I get), or slaves which she is over seeing movies about, stating there are enough (okay, I sort of get), or prosecutors, etc. and I didn't quite understand why that last bit, in particular, was a bad thing (pardon my ignorance). And she didn't explain. It seemed like that one section went on a rant about every type of movie that has black people in it being a bad representation, but the array of movies was so diverse, in my mind, that I felt confused. Ultimately, I felt that the heavier essays were very heavy while the earlier essays were comedic, so overall it felt unbalanced.

Title: Normally, This Would Be Cause For Concern
Subtitle: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness
Pages: 281
Genre: Non-fiction; memoir
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
Pub. Date: September 9, 2014

Memoir written by Danielle Fishel, Topanga from Boy Meets World, about her life and acting. I would only recommend this book if you were a fan of hers/the show. It was pretty cheesy in content and writing. But, of course, cute if you were a fan of hers. I enjoyed this okay, but I think most people would not, unfortunately. :(

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Pages: 292
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: October 1, 2013

This was another book club read. I would not have picked it up if not for that, even though my husband had previously read and enjoyed it. Turned out I really liked this one! The main character has asperger's (which sometimes I feel I relate a little too much to!) and his antics in trying to find a wife were funny. I would highly recommend this for a lighter read (though it wasn't as light as I thought it would be). Despite that, I do not have a desire to read the sequel which is strange. I guess I like this story just as is. For the book club, our hostess made the meal that the main character makes in the book, and it was delicious!!

Title: Cartwheel
Author: Jennifer Dubois
Pages: 363
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House Trade (Penguin Random House)
Pub. Date: September 24, 2013

This book was very highly based off the Amanda Knox story. A girl is studying abroad in Argentina when her roommate is murdered. The girl is charged with the murder. We read the back story about the relationship she had with her roommate and what led up to the murder, as well as her reaction afterwards (doing a cartwheel in the police station, all casual) and her family's response. I honestly don't even remember how this ended (LOL) but I enjoyed reading this. The character drove me batty because she was so immature and annoying, but other than that it was an interesting story, and if I remember correctly we were left with just our own opinions as to whether or not she did murder the roommate. It wasn't so much about the crime but about the character herself.

Atlas Shrugged Read-a-Long

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ti over at Book Chatter is hosting an Atlas Shrugged read-a-long, so I thought I would join and give this one a try. I am notoriously bad at read-a-longs, and this one is a long book. But I've also had it on my list for a while and would like to try and participate. Technically this started on July 1st and I have yet to start this. So I'm already behind! Ack! But we'll see how it goes!

Here is the info from Ti's post:

  • Runs from July 1-Aug 15, 2015
  • Use #AtlasRAL to talk about it on Twitter.
  • I hope to write an update post on my blog after each part (I, II, III) just to see how we are doing.
Suggested Read By Dates:
Part I by July 15 (approx 300 pages)
Part II by July 31 (approx 320 pages)
Part III by August 15 (approx 450 pages)

My goal is to be caught up by July 15th!