Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Review: I didn't notice the summary of this book comparing it to Shakespeare before I started reading; I have to admit that I was confused about the book's title, and I thought that the choice of characters' names was unusual.  After I finished the book, I did some research, and apparently "Exit, pursued by a bear" is one of Shakespeare's most unusual stage directions, from the play "The Winter's Tale".  After reading a summary of the play, I still don't see the connection to the plot of this book, but it is clear that almost all the major characters got their names from Shakespeare's play - Hermione (the beautiful, virtuous queen), Leo (Leontes, the king), Polly (Paulina, Hermione's friend), the secondary characters Dion, Clement, Tig, and Amy, and even the completely unnecessary coach's daughter Florry.  I also read up on Veronica Mars, and it seems like the only similarity the book has to that show is that Veronica was drugged and raped at a party, too.  So I think the publisher's summary is a little sensationalist....

This is a hard book to review, because it deals with rape.  I have absolutely no personal experience with rape, so I can't speak to how realistic Hermione's emotions are after she was raped.  I thought it was interesting that she didn't know how to feel herself, and that she kept questioning whether her feelings and behavior were right or normal.  At the end of the book, the author pointed out that she wanted Hermione to have a strong support system, and she did - her parents, best friend, cheerleading squad, minister and police officers were staunchly kind, supportive and on her side - that certainly helped Hermione cope with her situation.  Is this a typical environment for a rape victim?  I would guess not.  It did make the book feel a little Disneyfied - smart, beautiful, talented, blonde cheerleader gets drugged and raped at a party; sure, she suffers from some malicious gossip, but her friends stand up for her in all the best possible ways, and she copes amazingly well with all the fallout.

BUT, I couldn't put this book down, and I haven't felt that way about a book in a long time.  Johnston's writing was so easy and enjoyable to read, even while dealing with difficult topics.  I loved the strength that Hermione displayed throughout the book, and I loved seeing her amazing friendship with Polly. 

Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who Do You Love

Who do You Love
Jennifer Weiner
Who Do You Love

Genre: Women's Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.

With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you'll never forget.

Review: Another entertaining read by Jennifer Weiner!  I didn't love this book as much as some of her others, primarily because I couldn't see why Andy was so interested in Rachel when they were younger.  During Rachel's high school and college years, she was completely spoiled and materialistic, and Andy seemed so down-to-earth that it was hard to imagine what he saw in her.  I am not at all interested in reading books about women who need to use a specific fancy brand of lip gloss, and I even debated putting the book down when Rachel was in a sorority because it was just so ridiculous.  But I made it through that part and loved watching Rachel move past that stage of her life.  While it was frustrating to skip around in time and miss huge chunks of the characters' lives, it was interesting to watch Rachel and Andy meet up again and again.  Kind of reminded me of the book One Day.

Rating: 4 stars

The Chocolate Cupid Killings

The Chocolate Cupid Killings
Joanna Carl
The Chocolate Cupid Killings (A Chocoholic Mystery, #9)

Genre: Mystery

Summary (from Goodreads): Ninth in the scrumptious-and national bestselling-Chocoholic Mystery series. 

TenHuis Chocolade is wall-to- wall with chocolate hearts for Valentine's Day. But Lee is getting no love from Private Detective Derrick Valentine. He's looking for their employee-a woman Lee and her Aunt Nettie have been harboring for an underground railroad-type organization that aids abused women. Luckily, they manage to not spill the cocoa beans and clue him in. But the situation becomes a complex confection when Valentine meets his end. And it's Aunt Nettie who becomes a suspect. Lee will have to find a way to free Nettie of guilt without exposing the innocent-and find a killer with a bitter heart that's definitely not made of chocolate...

Review: I was working on puzzles with Nathaniel in the children's section of the library, and Amelia wandered over saying she had picked out all her books.  So I sent her over the adult fiction section of the library and told her to pick out a few books for me to read.  She seemed unsure about how to pick out books for me, so I told her to grab ones that had interesting titles or covers or plots on the back of the book.  This is one of the ones that she chose for me (and the only one that I finished - the others were not my style at all!)  There's the long explanation for why I read this particular book.

This cozy mystery is clearly part of a series, and while the beginning of the book gave pertinent background information, there were definitely things I felt like I had missed because of not reading the first eight books in the series.  It was interesting enough, but a little confusing (perhaps because of all the characters, who would be well-known to readers of the series).  I was mostly mystified as to why Lee felt like she needed to solve all these mysteries herself without police assistance.

Rating: 2 stars

One True Loves

One True Loves
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse.  They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of  their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts.  They travel the world together-Emma as a freelance writer, Jesse as a production assistant on the sets of nature documentaries-living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

One their first wedding assignment, Jesse is on an assignment in the Aleutian Islands when his helicopter goes missing over the Pacific.  Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma moves home in an effort to put her life back together.  Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again.  When she and Sam get engaged, it feels like her second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jess is found.

Emma now has a husband and a fiance.  But who is her one true love?
from the back of the book

Review:  I have never read a book by this author before but I really enjoyed the ease in her writing style and how I was swept away in the flow of the story.  This book carries you through two romances, one with Jesse and one with Sam.  As a reader, you fall in love with both couples and once Jesse returns it is hard to decide who you want Emma to end up with.  You feel Emma's pain as she grieves over losing Jesse and then you feel her pain as she is torn between her two loves.  Emma really reflects on what it means to love which is thought-provoking to the reader.  I could not put this book down and read it all in one day.  I am definitely going to look up more books by this author!

Rating: 5 stars

Wedding Season

Wedding Season
by Darcy Cosper

Genre: Chick Lit

Synopsis: Joy Silverman and her boyfriend, Gabriel Winslow, seem perfect for each other.  Living together in New York City, they have everything they want and everything in common-most important, that neither one wants to get married.  Ever.

But when Joy finds herself obligated to attend seventeen weddings in six months (including those of her father, mother, younger brother, and five of her closest girlfriends), the couple is forced to take a new look at why they're so opposed to marriage when the rest of the world can't wait to walk down the aisle.  As the season heats up and the pressure mounts, Joy must confront what it means-and what it costs-to be true to one's self.
from the back of the book

Review:  I have not been in a read mood lately and I thought that lighter chick lit books might help me start reading again so I picked up this book at the library just by looking at a random shelf (alphabetical order-letter C) and knew nothing about it.  It did get me reading again but then part way through the book I stopped to read another book and I thought about not even finishing this book because I just wasn't that interested in what happened to Joy.  Joy had 17 weddings to attend in six months but that just made the book repetitive and uninteresting.  The author does try to make each wedding different and more interesting by creating a huge variety in the cast of characters but then the characters come off as caricatures of a culture.  Joy has quite the mix of friends!  Joy is adamant that she does not want to get married and she does not believe in marriage.  Her beliefs are tested while so many of her friends tie the knot.  What happens later in the book didn't fit with what we learned about Joy and the ending leaves us unsatisfied.  While I wouldn't say that I didn't like the book, this book was just blah.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nest

The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Every family has its problems.  But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional.  Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger.  The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, "The Nest," which they are but months away from finally receiving.  Meant by their now-deceased father to be a modest midlife supplement, The Nest's value has unexpectedly soared along with the stock market, and the Plumb siblings have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and two looming college tuitions for her twin teenage daughters.  Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open.  And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can't seem to finish her overdue novel.

Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love?  Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they've envisioned?  Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.
from the book jacket

Review:  I am not sure how this book got so much hype.  It is uninteresting, lacks a plot that moves somewhere, and has unlikable characters.  If I had not been reading it for a book club, I would have abandoned it after the first several chapters because those chapters only focus on describing the characters who I found to be petty and self absorbed.  All they worry about is the money that they know will be coming to them and how to get the money back from Leo.  They seem to have no concern for anyone in their family but themselves.  The book gets slightly better over half way through the book which is why I did not rate this a 1 star book.  The f word is used over and over again in this book which was completely unnecessary.

Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, September 10, 2016

United As One

United As One
by Pittacus Lore

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Synopsis:  It has all come down to this.  One final chance to defeat the Mogadorians.  We will save this planet-or we will die trying.  But it's going to take all of us...including you.

If we're going to win this war, we need to eliminate their leader first.  And now I have the power to do so.  To get to him, though, we're going to need an army of our own.

We know you didn't ask for any of this. Neither did we.  Lorien chose you, as it did us.  It gave you Legacies so you could help defend the world.  We can train you to use your new abilities.  We can show you how to fight.  But it's your decision if you want to join us. You will have to put your life on the line, and not everyone may survive.  Not all of us have.

They killed Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
Number Three in Kenya.
Number Eight in Florida.
...And Sarah Hart in Mexico.

They've taken my home, my family, my friends, and now the person I love more than anything.

I am John Smith.  I am Number Four.  I have nothing left to lose-and that is their biggest mistake.

Review:  I enjoyed reading this series but I am glad that it is finished.  This book, as well as several others in the series, moved very slowly at times.  In this book's case, the first couple hundred pages were lacking action.  The series had to end with a major battle between the Garde and Setrakus Ra so I was not surprised by the ending in any way, shape or form.  The ending was predictable and somewhat anticlimactic.

Rating: 3.5 stars

To see my review of I Am Fourclick here.
To see my review of The Power of Sixclick here.
To see my review of The Rise of Nineclick here.
To see my review of The Fall of Fiveclick here.
To see my review of The Revenge of Sevenclick here.
To see my review of The Fate of Ten, click here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four, The Legacies: Lost Files 1-3click here.
To read my review of I Am Number Four; Secret Histories: Lost Files 4-6click here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mother Bruce

Mother Bruce
by Ryan T. Higgins

Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:  Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he's their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can't seem to rid himself of his new companions. What's a bear to do?
from GoodReads

Review:  I don't get to read picture books very often any more and I'm so glad that I asked my kids if I could read them a picture book last night instead of a chapter book.  This book was quite funny and had me giggling at the grumpy bear and his trials.  The humor in this book pokes fun at some things (locally sourced food, organic, etc) and is very clever.  I probably laughed more than my kids.  I love the expressions on Bruce's face throughout the book.  Definitely a fun read!

Rating: 5 stars