Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
This book is great. I loved it. I laughed out loud several times, stayed up until unholy hours finishing it and find myself thinking of the characters all morning (this is always a sign of a really good book in my opinion). However, I must say I almost quit the thing. I started it and maybe I am shallow but was really disturbed by the ages of the main characters. They are old widow/widowers and it really was hard for me to get past the idea the love interests in a book need to be young and fresh. (don't judge me and my shallow ways)
However, this book was a gem. I loved the message - clever writing -dry humor- and most of all I loved that these characters had the depth and story that can only come from someone a little more seasoned. This book made be detest obnoxious whippersnappers like myself and excited for the golden years when things really start to get fun!!

From Publishers Weekly:
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.

The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton 
I read "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton a few years ago and really liked it. And so....last Thanksgiving when I was stuck in an airport with nothing to read I bought this. And it took me months to finish. Not because its too long - because long doesn't slow me down....I mean, this is the girl who read Harry Potter 7 in 24 hours. If I want to finish something I will (even if that means I do is sans shower or food). This book just took me FOREVER to really get into. Its a book with a whole lot of talking/wondering/thinking/pondering/ruminating/dreaming/meditating....you get the point and not a whole lot of action.
However, it is a very good book. A beautifully written book. Just not one that you should expect a lot of quick answers and movement. If you go into it with that in mind - I think the time put into it pays off greatly at the end with a very satisfying twist ending and a lot of mysteries solved.

From Publishers Weekly:
A letter posted in 1941 finally reaches its destination in 1992 with powerful repercussions for Edie Burchill, a London book editor, in this enthralling romantic thriller from Australian author Morton (The Forgotten Garden). At crumbling Milderhurst Castle live elderly twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half-sister, Juniper, the three eccentric spinster daughters of the late Raymond Blythe, author of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's classic Edie adores. Juniper addressed the letter to Meredith, Edie's mother, then a young teen evacuated to Milderhurst during the Blitz. Edie, who's later invited to write an introduction to a reprint of Raymond's masterpiece, visits the seedily alluring castle in search of answers. Why was her mother so shattered by the contents of a letter sent 51 years earlier? And what happened to soldier Thomas Cavill, Juniper's long-missing fiancé and Meredith's former teacher? Despite the many competing narratives, the answers will stun readers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Am The Messenger

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

This book is written by the author of "The Book Thief", a book I absolutely adored. So now we are 2 for 2. I am really starting to love this guy. I think his books are smart, unique, and beautifully written. I loved this book - it was a page turner that I found myself immediately mesmerized  by it.(which has been rare lately - I find myself having such a hard time getting into most books I pick up...)
I don't want to say too much - but I would love for anyone who has read it to make a comment on what you thought of the ending...
Here is the overview The School Library Journal:
Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life.

Something Blue

Something Blue by Emily Griffin

So if you read my previous review you would know that I didn't like "Something Borrowed". I mean, really, really really, didn't like it. So it is a bit shocking that I actually read the second book in the series "Something Blue". I am not sure why I did considering I disliked the first so much. But I think that it left such a bad taste in my mouth I wanted to see some better resolution with the characters.
And I am glad I did. I actually really liked this book.
This book is from the point of view of Darcy - the really unlikeable, self-centered, scorned woman from Something Borrowed. In this book you got to see the "magic" really happen. You see her pick up the pieces of her life and really watch her change. Recognize her faults (and there were many of them) and really start to transform herself.
This is a book I would recommend. And one that you can read independent of the first without losing any understanding needed for the plot and story.

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

I had high hopes for this one. I saw the movie previews and they looked charming. And I was on a break from school and wanted to read something light and fun and that would require very few brain cells. Well, I was completely disappointed. Although it did live up to the very few brain cells part :)
I didn't like it. Not really at all. I did read the whole thing. And there were a few suspenseful parts. But I hated the premise. And maybe its due to my personal story - but I just couldn't like two main characters that cheated on and lied to their partners and best friends. No matter their reasons. No matter how annoying and terrible the best friends/ partners are. I mean, break up....end the relationship...get a spine!! Okay, as you can tell I am getting all red faced and angry...probably better end this review. I didn't like it. Wouldn't recommend it. The End.

PS. I did read the second book in the series (Something Blue) and surprisingly really liked that one...

A Place of Yes

Do not ask me why I bought this. I am embarrassed to even post this. I am not sure why I am. But I did read it. I mean, no disrespect to Bethenny Frankel - I just never thought I would be the girl who bought books by reality stars. But I had heard there was great dating advice and career advice in this book...and as a single (and not so successfully single) woman I am ALWAYS looking for good dating advice. So I bought the book (in my defense it was really cheap and on sale....rationalization at its best).

And. I. Liked. It.

Okay, I admit it. I actually liked it. I mean, this book is no "Grapes of Wrath." It's not something that will be read by English classes in 200 years...but it was a good pool read. And I did learn a few good things. And it is a good book not just for single-looking-for-love-women. It has a lot of good perseverance and endurance and believe in yourself information in here. So. If you are looking for a quick/easy/motivational read....check this one out