Tag Archives: reading

Books I’ve Read Recently

Time for a whirlwind update on what I’ve been reading in 2013 thus far! I’m not what you’d call an avid reader of books… I love them, but find myself spending far more time reading online than in paper form, though I always seem to think this will change. But I’m a Goodreads addict (join me, won’t you? Let’s be book buddies!) and want to share my recent hits and misses.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:Gone Girl By now, nearly everyone’s had their say about this book. I’m not sure I have much new to add. This was a great thriller novel about a wife who went missing and the process of her husband finding out what happened to her. This story provided gripping insight into a very dysfunctional relationship between a husband and wife and I couldn’t put it down, but I found the ending highly disappointing. Still, a good engrossing read. 4/5 stars

The Age of MiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: This is a coming-of-age story set in a dystopian future in which the earth has begun to slow its rotation, thus continually lengthening the days and nights. This impacts the earth and its inhabitants, human and otherwise, in crazy ways and causes rampant uncertainty about the future and polarized views about how The Slowing should be handled. But amid this upheaval, Julia is still dealing with normal day-to-day life… her parents’ fractured relationship, falling in love for the first time, and changing school friendships. It’s such a great premise for a book, but I actually had a hard time feeling really connected to the characters and understanding how Julia’s personal story mattered in the context of The Slowing. 3/5 stars

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Oh, how much I loved this book. This is a YA historical novel set in England & France during the Second World War. Perhaps my obsession with European World War historical novels plays into my love of this book, but the characters and the writing were also exquisite. This is the story of the wartime friendship between Maddie & Julie, and it opens with Julie having been captured and detained by Nazis after the plane that Maddie was flying, in which Julie was a passenger, crashed… killing Maddie. Julie is trying to buy time with her story while mourning for Maddie. The story has so many plot twists, I won’t say anything more, but read this book! 5/5 stars

Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: I loved this historical novel set in the 1920’s off the coast of Australia. This is the story of a lighthouse keeper and his beloved wife who live alone on and island in the lighthouse, and struggle with multiple miscarriages trying to have a child. Heartbroken, one day they find a wailing newborn baby washed up on shore in a wrecked boat with a dead man. This is the story of the choices made in the wake of this discovery and the lives it irrevocably affects along the way. I had to suspend my disbelief over the actions taken at times, but this is a lovely and thoughtful novel with interesting characters. 4.5/5 stars

The SistersThe Sisters by Nancy Jensen: Another historical novel, this time set in 1920’s Kentucky. With their mother dead, sisters Mabel & Bertie live with their sinister step-father and take comfort in their love for each other. On the proudest day of Bertie’s life, Mabel sets out to improve things for the sisters, but a series of staggering misunderstandings alters the course of both of their lives. The book takes place over the course of several generations of Bertie & Mabel’s families so you truly see the lasting effects of this single day. I found most of the characters relatable and believable, if not likeable. 3.5/5 stars

RequiemRequiem by Lauren Oliver: The third and final book in the Delirium trilogy, so of course I can’t say a damn thing without giving away spoilers from the first two books. But I’ll say this: the trilogy is a dystopian YA series based on the premise that in the USA, love has been classified as a disease called deliria nervosa for which there is now a cure, administered at age 18. After receiving the cure, people don’t feel emotions anymore. They are paired with an appropriate match as their life partner, and live their live as they’re told without stress. But before age 18, teens are susceptible to the deliria and of course there are resisters to the controlling regime who leave society to live in The Wilds, uncured and free to love whomever they choose. These resisters are a threat to the controlled society, as they are “diseased.” It’s such a great premise for a story, and well-written with fantastic characters. Sort of like the next Hunger Games, if you ask me… 4.5/5 stars

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue: One of the most creatively written novels I’ve read in a long time. Jack is 5 years old. He was born in a small room and has never been outside it in his life. His mother was kidnapped 7 years ago by her captor & rapist Old Nick (who is Jack’s biological father), and she is locked into this room where she lives with Jack. She is desperate to escape back into the world of course, but she’s built a life for Jack within this four walls with games, activities, stories, chores, and lessons. To Jack, Room is the whole world and it’s pretty great. The story is told from Jack’s point of view, in the voice of a child who doesn’t understand that there is life beyond the four walls of his home. It’s incredibly thought-provoking. 5/5 stars

Mindy KalingIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling: Yep, the same Mindy who wrote The Office and now has her own show called The Mindy Project. Mindy’s a gifted humour writer, but for me that humour translates better onscreen than on the page. Ehhhh, it was funny. But I definitely didn’t love this book. A good & fluffy beach or airplane read, nothing earth-shattering in here though. 2.5/5 stars

That’s what I’ve been reading lately. I’m currently working away at another light beach read and a non-fiction book for a change. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Book Review: Heart of the Matter

Image credit: Goodreads

I’m heading off to my monthly book club meeting this evening to discuss The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, a book I finished last week that I will review in the future. I really loved that book but found it quite heavy and emotionally draining, so I was craving an easier read to follow it. That’s where this book comes in; for awhile now, Emily Giffin has been my go-to girl for chick lit.

Note: This review contains some spoilers. I’m not giving away the ending, but I want to discuss one of the events from the middle of the book!

Heart of the Matter is a story following three main characters. Tessa Russo is a stay-at-home mother of two children, married to Nick Russo, a pediatric surgeon. She has only just recently quit her career to care for her kids and it’s not going as smoothly as she’d hoped. Then there’s Valerie Anderson, a single mother of a year old boy named Charlie. When Charlie has an accident at a birthday party, he ends up in hospital with Nick as his doctor, and the lives of all these characters intersect.

This was my least favourite book of Emily Giffin’s that I’ve read thus far. And here’s why: (here comes the spoiler!) This was another Giffin book centred around cheating. Now, I don’t have a problem reading a fictional story about an affair, but it’s starting to feel like Giffin is a one-trick pony. Not only that, but her earlier variations on this theme were better, so it was disappointing to read a diluted version of a similar storyline.

I found it difficult to believe that Nick was a fantastic guy who simply made a mistake. He was painted by Tessa and by Valerie as this amazing catch and I think the intention of Giffin was for the readers to agree with this assessment, but I didn’t. I thought he was a cheating git, and I hate the perpetuation of the idea that men (or women, for that matter) simply can’t help themselves when faced with a hot woman. Even if there are real feelings involved, there are a lot of steps in between meeting an attractive woman and boning her, and the guy’s big brain could have vetoed his little brain at any stage of the game. “It was a mistake, it just happened!” I’m sorry, you didn’t just trip, fall and land with your dick inside another woman!

I felt conflicted most of the way through; whereas in the Something series it was clear that I was on the side of Dex & Rachel, I never felt a true allegiance to either Valerie or Tessa. I don’t think this was due to Giffin building nuanced, conflicted, or flawed but fundamentally good characters here; that would imply that her characters were layered, complex and interesting, which they were decidedly not. Rather, while pleasant and easy to relate to, I found Tessa in particular to be a very one-dimensional character. I liked her and didn’t want to see her marriage break down, but never got a satisfactory answer as to why she loved Nick. I understood Valerie better; from the outside, though I felt it was wrong to engage in an affair with a married man, it was easier to understand how a single woman would allow it to happen than the married man who was supposedly in a happy marriage.

Despite my misgivings, I did feel invested in learning the outcome of the story and got what I wanted out of the book: a fun, mindless read. I didn’t hate it but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it either.

Have you read it and if so, what did you think? What’s your favourite chick lit book?