Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Bad Day for Sorry

A Bad Day for Sorry
Sophie Littlefield

A Bad Day for Sorry (Bad Day, #1)

Genre: Mystery

Summary (from Goodreads):  Stella Hardesty, our salty, unlikely heroine, runs a sewing shop in rural Missouri. She also has a side business helping battered women with their abusive boyfriends and husbands. When Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help, it seems like a straightforward case, until Chrissy’s no-good husband disappears with her two-year-old son. Now Stella finds herself in a battle against a more formidable enemy as she risks her own life to recover the boy

Review: This was a very interesting premise for a book - an older woman helps abused women escape from their relationships by threatening their husbands.  It reminded me so much of a menopausal country-hick Stephanie Plum, except not nearly as funny, and I think that's why I am only rating it 3 stars.  If I could have avoided the comparisons to Evanovich's characters and escapades, I would probably have rated this 4 stars.  I was also a little turned off by the things that Stella had done to some of the men, although thankfully they were implied and not described.  I thought the men deserved all the trouble she caused them, but I found it unlikely that she would be able to do all those things herself.  I am interested enough that I may check out another book in this series.

Rating: 3 stars

Flora and Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses
Kate DiCamillo

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Genre: Chapter Book/Illustrated Novel

Summary (from Goodreads):  Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K.G. Campbell.

Marcie's Review: I got this book in my library's "Blind Date with a Book" section; it was listed as quirky yet lovable, and I would completely agree!  The library had shelved it originally in the Buzz Books section, and as I was reading, I kept wondering if this was really an adult's book.  Well, when I started looking at it on goodreads, I found out that it is in fact a middle school aged children's book.  So I am reviewing this with the understanding that it is a children's book.

This is the kind of chapter book that I would love for my kids to read, maybe in a few years since the vocabulary is well beyond my daughter's level right now.  Sure, there's very little chance that a 10 year old would use such great vocabulary words like malfeasance, but I loved that the author included them.  It helped make Flora's character so intelligently charming and unusual.  I was unsure about reading a book that contained graphic novel elements, because I have tried to read some solely illustrated young adult books, and I haven't been able to get into them.  But this book was perfect - mostly chapters, with the occasional illustration.  A very fun book!  And as a bonus, you can read the entire book in a few hours.

Marcie's Rating: 4 stars

Becky's Review:  What a fun, quirky book!  Flora was such an interesting little girl.  Actually all the characters were unique and different.  The events of this book were quite unexpected. I imagine kids will love this story.  I did find the vocabulary a little distracting because even I did not know what the words meant and had to look them up.  I think kids might struggle with them because they are very advanced words.  I did want more at the end.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  Maybe the author has plans to write more with these characters, who knows?  I hope she does because they were definitely fun to read.

Becky's Rating: 4 stars

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

Genre: Romance

Summary (from Goodreads):  An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Marcie's Review: This is a quirky yet charming love story that was so much fun to read.  The main character reminded me of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, except that I was glad to find he was more self-aware and showed more willingness to be flexible.  Don was such an unexpectedly funny cutie-pie of a man; I just loved him!  I had a hard time figuring out how to categorize this book, and I ended up deciding it was a romance, but it was the most unique romance I've ever read; plus, it was written by a man, from a man's perspective.  I would definitely read this book again.

I read a few reviews that gave this book a low rating because the readers felt the author was being too jokey or stereotypical about Aspergers.  I don't have any personal experience with Aspergers, but I felt like Don's point of view gave me a little insight into how people with Aspergers think.

Becky's Review: I really enjoyed this book and I very much loved the quirkiness of the characters.  I loved the insight into Don's life and how structured it was.  But I didn't love all the other characters.  With how much Don relied on Claudia and Gene, I felt like they were fairly shallow characters and were lacking feelings.  Don changes at the end and confronts Gene and I feel like that came from nowhere.  But the 2 main characters were very fun and their antics were quite hilarious.  This was a light, enjoyable read.

Marcie's Rating: 5 stars

Becky's Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls

The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls
by Wendy Delsol

Genre: Women's Fiction

Synopsis:  The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls was once a home for unwed mothers, is now a bed-and-breakfast that houses three generations of women-and their many secrets...

In the 1960s, spunky nineteen-year-old Ruby was wooed and won over by the founder of the McCloud Home.  Today the historic property has been converted into an inn that Ruby runs with her daughter Jill.  When Jill's fourteen-year-old daughter begins to search for the identity of her father, she sets in motion events that will test the bonds among mothers, daughters, and sisters.

Jill unwittingly aids the forces of upheaval when she agrees to host the wake of the town matriarch.  As the guests-including the matriarch's handsome nephew and Jill's vivacious, irresponsible sister-return to the small Iowa town, the converge of people and memories uncovers rivalries, sparks romance, recalls heartbreak, and reveals a shocking family secret, one that could separate the McCloud women forever or lead them to the renewal of their powerful, enduring connection.
from the back of the book

Review:  Perhaps expecting one thing from the book and getting another really impacted my view of this book and made me feel very ambivalent about this book.  I wanted to know more about the history of the home and the "wayward girls" but it really didn't talk about much of that at all.  The book started out with quite a lot of names dropped and as they hadn't been introduced yet, I was left very confused and it didn't make me want to keep reading.  I didn't truly get into the book until at least the half way point.  The author kept dropping all these reminders of the family secret but then doesn't tell you until three-fourths of the way through.  There are also a lot of flashbacks in a chapter that isn't labeled as being in the past and that also made me confused.  I didn't feel that this was a compelling enough story nor a well enough written book.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Monday, February 3, 2014


by Marie Lu

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Synopsis:  He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position. 

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything. 

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
From GoodReads

Review:  I read this book in less than 1 day which means it was captivating and a page turner!  I couldn't wait to find out how the Republic was going to defend itself against the Colonies and how June and Day were going to help.  This was a very satisfying end to the trilogy-the ending was written so beautifully and emotionally.  It really tugs at your heart. This book had some romance in it like the others but perhaps a bit more than the others.  We can't have a young adult dystopian trilogy without romance, can we?   This series overall was fantastic.  I think one of the things I liked so much about these books was the lack of teenage angst.  June and Day are young-14 and 15 in the first book I believe but yet they don't act like teenagers. They are smart and critical thinkers.  That could be a criticism of the book because it is a young adult novel but I credit their maturity to the society that they are raised in.  Kids couldn't be kids for a long time.  They had to grow up after the Trials at age 10 or 11 (I can't remember the specific age).  One of the things I liked specifically about this book was getting to see how other people in the world lived.  It was fascinating to see how other societies developed after the great flood.  I would highly recommend this series to anyone who liked other young adult dystopian fiction series-you may even find that this one is your favorite! 

Rating:  5 stars

To see my review of Legend click here.
To see my review of Prodigy click here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How To Be Lost

How To Be Lost
by Amanda Eyre Ward

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:  To their neighbors in suburban Holt, New York, the Winters family has it all, a grand home, a trio of radiant daughters, and a sense that they are safe if their affluent corner of America.  But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the Winters family are exposed.  Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons.  Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah, Georgia.  And Ellie's bereft sisters grow apart.  Madeline reluctantly stays home, while Caroline runs away.

Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in a magazine.  Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister, armed with Xerox copies of the photograph, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer.  As Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, she devotes herself to salvaging her broken family.
From the book jacket

Review:  I wanted to like this book but I just couldn't.  The beginning seemed so abrupt to me as it moved from chapter to chapter.  I didn't feel the flow of a well written book.  I also didn't like any of the characters because this book was really lacking in character development.  All I knew about Caroline was that she was a trashy girl who ran away from problems.  The chapters are interspersed with letters written by someone named Agnes Fowler and we have NO idea how she fits in the book.  Her letters make here seem like an older lady but yet she is quite young.  The one letter she writes about her ideal date seems TOTALLY out of the blue and totally uncalled for in this book.  There are parts of this book that are crude and unnecessary.  It seems like the author couldn't decide if she was writing for a young crowd who likes chick lit and needed to throw in gratuitous swear words or if she was trying to rise above that and write a more well rounded novel.  Either way, the book didn't work.  The ending was terrible!  You are left completely hanging but yet I don't really care enough to wonder what happens to the family.

Rating:  2 stars