Nic ~ Judging By A Cover

29 03 2009

An Offer You Can’t Refuse ~ Jill Mansell

I am almost embarrassed to admit why I bought this book…FINE.  I’ll admit it!!! I JUDGED THIS BOOK BY IT’S COVER.  Look at it!  It’s so pretty.  On Kimberly’s and I’s weekly lunch time pilgrimage to Chapters, I stop and look at this book every time.  It’s one of the ones that the devious Chapters employees have places face up instead of binding up.  No doubt, due to it’s lovely exterior that they know people will stop to look and and then have the urge to purchase.  I feel stressed out already, because this is only one of the many beautifully bound books that this author has published.  Hopefully the books are actually worth it, ’cause I am buying ’em either way.

Supposedly, Jill Mansell is one of Britain’s largest selling authors, and spins deliciously fluffy tales of Chick-Lit.  Which I am more than welcoming to at the moment, my readings of late have been a little more serious.  This book deals with a girl who at the urging of her boyfriends mother, breaks up with him and takes a large sum of money to never talk to him again.  This is of course, all under the pretense of a dark and looming family secret that is set to hurt the love of her life if she does not.  Cut to years later, when she stumbles across him, and they realize that OOOP! they still have feelings (WHAT?!?!? giant shocker….) for one another.  So.  I go into this book with the hopes of being delighted, and then as I near the ever-promising picture perfect ending, I am sure that I will be leaving with a sense of bitterness.  Should be good!

This book was one quick read! Seiously, it only took me a few hours, time flew by as I was reading this one; I could not put it down!  Which is a good thing for a book.  It was really light hearted and breezy and I had more than one laugh out loud moment.  The book eneded up being pretty much what I was expected, although there were a few things that surprised me, mostly pleasantly.  The main surprise was that this book actually took on a bit of a deeper level than I had initiall expected.  There was a thread involving a meeting of long lost people…I don’t want to give it away in case people read this book, but it was a sweet reunion.  Also, this book wove much deeper relationships between the characters than I had expected.  I mean, sure in the end it was al lovey dovey and blah blah like I knew it would be, but in between the covers, I found a few moments of actual reflection into my own relations with friends, and of people that have come and gone and maybe showed up again in my own life.  I think that this is just the epitome of Chick-Lit.  Sassy heroine who is down on her luck, great girlfriends to advise her, even though their own lives are a total mess, and heaps of supposedly good looking men milling about.  Grand Slam.  Also, I really enjoyed how very British this book was, it gives it a whole other appeal.  So, if you are looking for a fun, flitty little read and want to have a few laughs, and be reminded that yes love is most likely out there, and if it hasn’t found you it will sooner or later than pick up this one and give it a try.  Plus, come on….look at that cover….so pretty!


KimN ~ The Rainbow

28 03 2009

The Rainbow ~ D.H. Lawrence

March 12 ~ My track record so far on this blog consists mostly of popular fiction, so I thought I’d better pick up a Literary Classic for my next read!  This book was actually recommended to me by my friend Kat, who read it for an English Lit course at UFV and thought I’d like it.

I had a thought, when compiling this intro post… there are often so many different covers for novels as they get older, its crazy!  I’m going to try to always post the novel cover that reflects the actual book I’m reading… it will probably be an indicator as to how old it is!


March 28 ~ Praise the Lord – I’m finally finished reading this book.  I have to be totally honest and admit that it was a tough 418 pages for me to get through and I’m very happy that it is finally over!  This book didn’t really follow in the footsteps of previous DH Lawrence books that I have read, and I was a little disappointed.  The book follows 3-generations of the Brangwen family, focusing roughly on the 3 generations of women – Lydia, Anna, & Ursula.  Lydia & Anna’s stories generally follow the highs and lows of each woman’s relationship with her husband.  The book goes on for 50+ pages of Anna considering reasons why she hates her husband, and then flips to reasons why she loves her husband in the same breath.  Most of this is written from an omniscient point of view, which means that there is little dialogue and ALOT of description.  The story picks up a little bit when Ursula (Anna’s eldest daughter) becomes the focus, as she deals more with the issues that face her as she tries to determine her direction in life – to become a wife or not, how to be recognized as an entity/person separate from the rest of the Brangwens, etc.

Interestingly though, this novel was actually banned or, to be more specific, impounded by police after it was published in 1915 because it was considered too obscene.  After reading this in the introduction I was expecting a few shocking or scandalous moments in the novel.  Lawrence goes about as far as saying that his characters laid together and were lovers… not so scandalous in today’s day and age.  It is really interesting to consider that this novel was thought of as SO obscene that it was taken away from public eyes, but today sexuality is broad-casted at an explicit level in a number of different mediums – books, television/movies, internet, and even billboards.  I find that really sad… and I don’t even want to think about where we will be in another 100 years.

Don’t read this book if you are looking for a quick, fun, or easy read.  Read this book if you want to dig in to the relationships, themes, and the world of the 18th century… I’m sure if I was still taking classes for my English Lit degree that I would have appreciated or pulled out more from this novel!

Nic ~ on the Picoult train…Change of Heart

22 03 2009

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

I really liked my first Picoult, and Kim really liked her first, and second and so forth Picoult.  And a whole bunch of my coworkers agree with us too…and most importantly almost every Sunday Kim and her husband and I go to Costco, and we emerge with more Picoult.  So, needless to say, we now have  a plethora of Picoults’ to power through.


You know what I have realized the most since starting this blog?  That I actually hate writing reviews.  I love talking about the book I am reading and sharing my opinions, but I am really horrible at formatting them and making them all streamlined.  Especially for books like this; there are one too many thoughts floating around.  But I will try.  I started this book being kind of wary.  This book deals with a death row inmate accused of murdering a father and daughter, waiting on his sentencing for 11 years.  He’s just been moved into a new cell block before his execution, and his fellow inmates are noticing a sudden onslaught of so called “miracles” which have been occurring since Shay Bourne showed up.  We are brought along on the journey as Shay tries to twist his sentence to let him be able to donate his heart to the other daughter of his victim.  This decision brings in a catholic priest as his spiritual advisor and a ACLU lawyer.  Both these individuals are now working in conjunction with one another to help Shay to make his dying wish come true.  While neither of them may believe that Shay is actually performing miracles, or is involved in the next coming, they do both believe in Shay himself, and that he is working to atone for his own sins.

I at the beginning was immediatly skeptical as to the direction this book was heading as it was posing questions about Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Gnosticism.  The book poses questions as to whether any religion in intself can bring you closer to Jesus, or if it is a personal melding of various ideas.  On a secondary string, this book also follows the heartbreak of a mother and daughter left behind since the murder of her husband and other daughter, struggling with forgiving the man that claims he did not in fact, actually commit the murders.  In the end I followed this book through, and was not that shockingly, impressed with the end.  The way that Picoult crafts a book draws you in, eager to see the results for all the characters.  Although I did not entirely agree with all the religious aspects that were suggested in this book, it did do it’s job in making me, the reader, question the validity of the death penalty, and the degree of prisoners rights, as well as made me look further into my own personal walk with God and religious path on which I am seeking Him on.  So.  Once again, a good read by Picoult, and a spurring of thoughts I hadn’t touhed on in a good while.

Nic ~ The Cellist of Sarajevo

18 03 2009

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

This book is the fictional account of 3 peoples lives that is based on a true story.  From what I know, in the early 90’s there was a series of bombings in Sarajevo, killing thousands.  One of these bombs killed 22 of Vedran Smailovic’s friends and neighbors.  Smailovic is an accomplished cellist, and in response; in mourning to these bombings, he sat outside in the square where his friends had died and played for 22 days

This book takes a fictional approach at looking at the aftermath in these 22 days as the cellist plays.  We are taken into the minds of two different survivors, forced to finally go out into the war torn land to gather food and water.  As well, working under the directives of the city we meet Arrow,  a calculated sniper assigned to protect the cellist no matter what she has to do.

This story affected me in ways I hadn’t really realized I was affect-able.  Horrible, inexplicable and unwarranted acts of violence take place all over the world, all the time.  And although I hear of it, and I see visions of war torn streets in foreign lands, see the massacre, visions are all they were.  As much as it pains me, as much an atrocity as I see these acts as being, I never was able to even remotely understand how people lived in these circumstances, what life was like.  This book gave me an slight glimpse of what that life would be like, and a slight glimpse was more than terrifying form me.  Galloway did his homework; he gathered much information of the Siege of Sarajevo (currently the longest lasting city siege in the history of modern warfare) and spoke to many former residents of Sarajevo.  He manages to show the heart of these people, show their love for their land, show their hope that keeps pushing them onward, minutes after minute, day after day.

We are taken into these 3 survivor’s thoughts, taken into their views of the war, shown what inexplicably keeps them going, gives them a solitude in the struggle to keep their heads afloat and survive.  They survive for hope, for love, for fear, for hatred.  All 3 of these characters are walking throughout the empty shadows that were their lives, re-adjusting to their new lives, accepting what has become their reality.  All are hopeful, yet all are devoid of hope.  And yet, they are all feeling pained at being devoid of hope.  I found this to be a very interesting pull of this story.  If I were in their position, would I be so different?  No, and yes.  I believe that I wold be hopeful and yet devoid of hope.  But am I so sure in myself that I would feel pained that I had given up?  I haven’t the slightest idea that I would be able to count myself among those that are that strong.  And I suppose, that therein, is the switch in thinking when presented with situations such as these, when you are among the survivors, because you have made a choice, be it a conscious one or not.

There are so many people, moving about separately, yet all together in one direction.  So many people pressing onward, yet unsure as to what, inherently trusting that something will change.  And in this is the reason for the Cellist to daily risk himself to play for those innocents, that not only he, but a entire country lost.  He does what he knows, he plays to remind himself that is it his land, that those oppressing him are not his oppressors if he does not permit them to be.  He plays to promise himself that life can go on, to convince, if only himself, that there is still more strength, more courage left to fight, to shed light in streets that haven’t seen it in weeks, to lose himself in the notes that lay out the memories of what were, what is, and what will come to be.

I’m not sure who I would recommend this book to, to be honest.  I am quite certain that not all people would appreciate it, although I wish that everyone would.  It is a bit slow moving, yet almost too fast pasted all at once.  It is violent, and discouraging, yet bears a message of peace and a promise that amidst all the pain, hope and encouragement can prevail, even if you are not the one to be living in it at the time being.  Read it if you want a dose of reality, and if you want to remember that even in desperate times of conflict, the human spirit can not only survive, but prevail.

Nic ~ My Sister’s Keeper

15 03 2009

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I am currently reading Jodi Picoult on the behest of Kimberly. Oh, and the rest of the entire world.  Considering how involved we both are with reading, and how often we are at Chapters, neither of us were really aware of her works…so odd…so picked one up and it seems I picked a hum-dinger.  Man, I am just plowing full stream ahead into emotional turmoil with my book choices lately, and I have the feeling this one’s going to be on the same lines…

2 DAYS LATER and I am done.  I have successfully made it through my first Jodi Picoult novel.  And I am more than sure that it will not be last.  I am still in awe as to how I have been missing out for so long.  What else have I been missing out on?  Light beam shooting harbor seals?  Braille reading unicorns?  Anyways, I digress.  So I loved this book!  It was excellent.  I will try to explain why with the following:

The style in which Picoult writes drew me in off the get go.  I can relate to the dialect and type of underhanded sarcastic manner in which the main character spoke.  There were real emotions driving the words of this novel.  When the characters are feeling joy, pain, confusion, I felt it too.  Picoult is able to successfully create character in which you can see part of yourself.  The human nature is carefully poured into the persona looking back at you from the page.  I especially liked how this was reflected in each chapter being written from a different first person’s point of view, along with a differnt font used to visually represent the character.  At first I was a bit confused by this aspect, but as soon as I realized what was going on I couldn’t keep from wanting to get to the next chapter, to see how the other characters were relating to the situation.

On to the story itself.  I found this book to be incredibly engaging.  We are introduced to Anna, a young woman dealing with the consequences of the decisions her parents have made for her her entire life.  Anna’s older sister Kate has a rare form of Leukemia, and Anna was genetically fashioned to be a match for her sister and to provide, pretty much, ongoing life for her sister.  As Anna and Kate get older, and as Kate’s condition deteriorates Anna must make huge decisions for herself that will undoubtedly effect Kate just as much.  WHOA.  Talk about an intense, touchy subject for the masses.  Picoult weaves Anna’s families point of view, as well as the lawyer that has now become involved to show the various positions being taken on the issue.  It’s a very interesting path that the reader is taken on.  I for example, initially hated Anna’s mother.  Fast forward to half way through the book, and I can almost begin to understand the motives behind her unyielding desire to use one child to help the other.  You begin to see that there is much more under the surface, that there are so many other reasons and emotions involved in these people’s lives, that one decision cannot be looked down upon without taking into account all the others that could have been made.  Also.  The ending was completely unexpected.  Which just made it all the better.

I’m not that great at wrapping these things up….Read this book.  No matter who you are, you can get something out of it, unless you are a boy, then you probably won’t. Bam. Done.

Nic ~ I’m postive I am reading this book

14 03 2009

The Time Traveler’s Wife  by Audrey Niffenegger

So, everyone at work PROMISED me I will fall in love with this book, and were surprised I already hadn’t.  So i figured I had best get cracking.


A good 3 weeks later….

Wow. This book took me FOREVER to read.  I have never taken so long to read a book.  Ever.  But be certain that it was not for a lack of burning interest in the material.  It took so long because this book is SO intense.  I would read every 3 lines and then realize that I had to read it again, just to be sure that I had really taken all the words into account.  There are so many details, so many intricate happenings that draw you in.  I very quickly found myself pulled into the world that Niffenegger has crafted so masterfully.  This woman has in intense imagination!  Not only that, but she is so skilled, I started to think of this book as reality.  This book manages to intertwine 3 very different plot lines together, a science fiction time traveling thread, an in depth look at the human character, and a painfully beautiful love story.  And as it happens, I am a major fan of all 3 of these things.

We start of meeting Henry DeTamble, who through a genetic mutation randomly time travels.  And then we meet his 6 year old soon to be wife.  Except that at the time Henry is 36…but really only 8 years older than Clare…like I said; intense.  And so we begin to follow them, past, present, future, as they desperately try to navigate through their lives together.  Clare is stuck in the present, waiting for a man she’s known her whole life, for a man she loves, for a man she cannot exist without, and Henry bounces about time, relying on note from himself and chance meetings with Henry’s from other places in time.  We are shown the joys and many pains that have shaped their lives, the people who have come and gone and stayed that have shaped them into the people they have become.  You immediately want Henry to succeed.  He is self centered, shameless, violent and petty at times, but you know that he just has to succeed, just has to keep on going with this life.

You want nothing more than for Henry and Clare to  be able to be together, to be happy, to have one brief fleeting moment in which they can be together, be in the present, be careless and just love one another.  But Henry’s mutated cells do not just result in random time traveling , they also result in a seeming inability to produce a healthy child.  And so we begin on the next journey for the couple.  Pain and joy begin to flow mingled into one another, and these two are left navigating through a life they never had any say on while holding onto the few things they know are truth.  We follow as they slowly begin to watch Henry disintegrate, as his travels become more violent and unexpected.  Cures are sought, doctors convinced, and advice is given, but it seems little can be done.  And on to the next chapter in their lives; trying in vain to get ready for the end.

This story is at times confusing, joyous, depressing, violent, but always, always haunting.  The story seeps into you.  The characters are everywhere you look, their pains become real to you.  This story takes hold of you from the first page, grips you closely throughout, and at the end, won’t let you go.

I adore this book.  I know for a fact I will read it numerous times again.  The pages will become dog eared, the binding broken and beautiful.  Read this book if you believe in love.

Kim N ~ Plain Truth

10 03 2009

Plain Truth ~ Jodi Picoult

March 4th – After talking about reading Jodi Picoult’s book Vanishing Acts with a friend at work, she kindly lent me one of her daughter’s Picoult novels – Plain Truth!  I grabbed the book to look over it before bed last night, and couldn’t put it down!  So… stayed tuned for comments on my second read of a Picoult novel!


March 10 – Well, I finished this book last night and it was even better than my first Picoult read!  I’m not even sure how to explain what makes Picoult’s novels so great – they are so complex, with rich characters and relationships that weave around the central plot.  Plain Truth grabbed me from the its very first page, when a young Amish girl delivers her baby boy all alone in a her family’s cow barn.  From there the story focuses on the trial for the murder of the baby, with the young unwed mother, Katie Fisher, as the defendant.  

I find books especially great when I can learn a thing or to from them – especially in terms of history or culture.  This novel’s focus on the Amish culture gives it a twist that is unique.  It was especially interesting to see this culture through the eyes of the central character, Ellie Hathaway – the big-shot lawyer who is distantly related to Katie and ends up defending her in court and living at the Fisher farm for the duration of the trial.  The comparison between the Amish culture and Western culture are really interesting and are a big part of what gives the novel its unique dynamic.

As I was reading my second Picoult novel, I was trying to figure out what the common thread could be in her novels.  Picoult’s website tags her novels as being about family, relationships, and love.  The two I have read so far definitely deal with these topics, and they also have a court case as a central aspect of the story-line.  We’ll have to wait and see if this continues as I read Picoult’s other novels!

I would recommend this book as a first Picoult read to anyone who is curious about her novels, I’m sure you will get hooked like I have – I can’t wait to get my hands on my next Jodi Picoult!  I think I’d better pick a different author for my next read though… there is such thing as having too much of a good thing!