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Posts Tagged ‘Jodi Picoult’

I will confess with everything that I have going on this summer (see the intro. to my last blog post if you’re not with me) I have not completed one single book since my summer break from school began last Thursday. However, I am very close to being finished with The Town That Forgot How To Breath and I’m planning on reviewing that one sometime this week. I was thinking about how much I LOVE Summer Reading and I thought that for this Tuesday my TTT could be the top ten books I am most looking forward to reading this summer. I hope that I am actually able to find the time to read all ten books which is something I normally would never have trouble doing, but this summer is a little different for me with my mom being so sick and school starting back so early and I will be moving next month. I hope to at least read five of this if not more. Some of the titles are very new and some are pretty old and one I have read before but I need to revisit. Some are very popular and are still on the bestsellers list and some you might now have even heard of. Anyway, here are my personal top ten (hope to) reads for the summer of 2012:

10. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Publication Date: 2011.
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I am a huge King fan and I have read great reviews of this book. I bought a used copy a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting on my to-read shelf ever since begging me to open it up.

9. Canada by Richard Ford. Publication Date: 2012.

I knew nothing of this book. I hadn’t read about it in any of the book-themed magazines I read, I hadn’t seen it on the indie next list on indiebound, I hadn’t heard a buzz about it on any of the podcasts I listen to and I hadn’t read excitement posts about it on any of the blogs I follow. However, one morning I was browsing my friends GoodReads updates and one of my friends on there (who I trust 100% book-wise) gave it a glowing review and FIVE, yes FIVE stars (which is basically unheard of on GoodReads unless the book is spectacularly amazing great). It sounded interesting and after hearing an interview with Ford on NPR I knew I had to read it and it shot to the top of my to-read list. Now, if only the library’s waiting list for it wasn’t so high!

8. Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. Publication Date: 2012.

This book LITERALLY just came out. Today. I am a HUGE fan of Picoult’s and have collected each of her books (with the exception of Lone Wolf because it’s not out in paperback yet, so, no spoilers, please!). With Between The Lines, Picoult teams up with her teenaged daughter, Van Leer, and writes a work of young-adult fiction that is blowing up all of the blogs and podcasts and etc (see #9 for everything I turn to for book advice). The book is a book about books and characters and fairy tales and all of my favorite things. Now, I’m off to secure me a copy!

7. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Publication Date: 2001.

Bel Canto is my need to re-read book for this summer. I read it in college for a class I was taking, but now I can’t remember ANYTHING about it. I don’t even remember if I enjoyed it or not. I last read State of Wonder by Patchett and didn’t much care for that one so I am hoping that this one will be better. People seem to love Patchett and this is probably her most famous work. This one won the PEN/Faulkner and the Orange Award so I guess it can’t be too bad, right?

6. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Publication Date: 2011. Click here for review. Read 6/29/12

Silver Sparrow a book that I marked as to-read a while ago before it was published. It seems like I pretty much forgot about it and now suddenly I am seeing this book everywhere I look, especially since I follow Ms. Jones and childhood favorite author Judy Blume on Twitter and they have been really hyping a guest appearance they both made at a NYC Barnes & Noble. I guess I kinda missed the boat by not reading it last summer since NPR marked it as one of their books to read for the 2011 summer. So, now I am making up for lost summer reading and hoping to get to it this summer.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Publication Date: 2011.
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The Night Circus is one of those books that was so loved when it first came out and now it seems to have faded away. I never got a chance to read it when it first came out and so now I’m hopeful that I will get to it this summer and that it will still live up to the hype it had last year upon publication.

4. An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer. Publication Date: 2012

This is one that I just recently added to my to-read list. I was fumbling around a Barnes & Noble one afternoon killing time and found this book, read the back, and almost bought it. Some of my friends on GoodReads didn’t much care for it, but I’m intrigued. One of the books I brought down to my parents house with me this time I’m here is The Dante Club and I’m excited to get on that one. I feel like I’m definitely in the mood for some secret society reads and these two should be two good ones, I hope.

3. Carry the One by Carol Anshaw. Publication Date: 2012.

I don’t remember how I discovered this one but the plot sounds like one of those where you HAVE to read the whole thing in one sitting. The story begins with a wedding and after the wedding a tragedy strikes and the book unravels like the lives of the people affected by the tragedy.

2. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. Publication Date: 2012.

This is my favorite type of summer read: ones that are set in the summer and at the beach, but still have some literary value to them. I love books like this. I find that they are not quite as good if the weather’s not hot enough though. I’ve been holding off on this one for a long time so that I can read it either while camping on the river or at the beach this summer. Several times I have placed it in my basket at bookstores and at Target but I always put it back because I know I will read it right away and I need to have patience. It is, afterall, a virtue.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Publication Date: 2012.

Everyone has been RAVING about this book lately and it was sold out at Target today which means it must be good (either that or the new-ness of it is still working on people, it was just published on June 5). The plot (two out of work yuppie types have to move back to one of their hometowns where the girl goes missing and eyes turn towards the husband) did not sound all that amazing to me so I may have to wait until I am in the mood for a mystery before starting this one. I am really looking forward to it though because I can’t get anyone to say anything negative about it!

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer? What books have you read so far this summer that you loved? What books do you think I should add to this list?

Happy Summer Reading!!

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It’s a lot like life and that’s what’s appealing, if you despise that throwaway feeling –Depeche Mode

“I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey. And I hate coffee.” -EL James

I HAD to read Fifty Shades of Grey. I had to. I mean, everyone else in America was swept up in the craze. I started off getting my copy by going to my local public library’s catalog. Surprise, surprise, even people in rural North Carolina just had to read this book. The waiting list for the two print copies was over 14 people long. Okay, plan B, get the e-reader version from Overdrive on my nook. NOT! Over 20 people on that waiting list. Okay, onto plan C now, buy the darn book. The nook version was almost the same price as the print version and when given a choice I will ALWAYS choose the print version. Cut to a Saturday shopping day at Target where there is a HUGE Fifty Shades display. I grab a copy, I thumb through it, and Oh. My. Gah. I sneak it into the bottom of my shopping basket. I will admit that when I first picked up my copy, I honestly did not know what the book was about. I knew that it was considered “erotica” but I had no idea about the storyline or characters or any of that.

Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia (love that name) Steele who is coming up on her graduation from a college in Washington State. Anastasia is very sheltered, smart and reserved, you know, and all around goody two shoes. Anastasia’s (or ‘Ana’ as she prefers) roommate, Katherine (Kate) Kavanaugh is the editor for the university’s newspaper. While fighting off the flu she sends Ana to interview the rich and powerful Christian Grey (CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings) who is the commencement speaker at their graduation in a few weeks. While interviewing Mr. Grey, Ms. Steele makes a connection and viola a relationship blossoms between the two. However, this is not your typical romantic romance, oh no, Mr. Grey has a few surprises (red room of pain, anyone?) in store for the young and impressionable Ms. Steele.

What I liked:
-I found myself actually caring about the characters in this book. It took me a long time to finish it (almost 4 weeks, but I’m very busy with work right now), and I kept wishing I was finished with it so I could move on to something else. I finished it night before last and all day yesterday, I kept wondering to myself what would happen to Ana and Christian? The book ended on a cliffhanger so now of course I HAVE to read the next two books as well.

What I didn’t like:
-So with all of the hype surrounding this book, I’ve read in many places that the book originally started off as Twilight fan fiction. Ok, I can definitely see Edward in Christian (he’s rich, he’s elusive, he’s withholding, he lives in Washington) and I can definitely see Bella in Ana (shortened nick name, brunette, lives in Washington State, mom lives in the sunny south, close to a protective and loving dad, sheltered, shy, virginal, bookish, etc. etc.) As much as I loved Twilight, and I did, and I’m not ashamed of it, I didn’t like that this was a rip-off of that work. I read an interview with Jodi Picoult where she talked about how it seemed unfair that this new author just swooped in and didn’t have to work to build a fan base, she already had millions that she took from Meyer.
-It was not written well. It just wasn’t. It seemed like the author constantly threw in big words just to cover up the fact that it was smutty and to try to fool the reader into thinking it was actually some great work of literature.
-Ana kept referring to her “inner goddess.” Constantly. It was fluffy overkill and I consequently hate her inner goddess.
-The subject matter. Several times Ana spoke about how she did not like being “beaten” by Christian. She was constantly at a loss over what to do about his lifestyle. She obviously didn’t like the lifestyle. On two occasions she openly wept after being “beaten” by Christian. She loved him, but she didn’t love his lifestyle, and you can’t have one without the other. I feel like Christian should have compromised a teensy bit more. I’m hoping that there will be more compromise in the next two books.

Overall I gave it 3 stars (it was okay) on GoodReads. I don’t think that I would recommend it, but I will read the next two in the series.

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Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart? -The Lovin’ Spoonful

Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can. -Alice Hoffman Practical Magic

So here it is again, almost another month has gone by and no updates from me. We still do not have Internet here, but I am hoping to change that tomorrow as I got a brand new computer at Best Buy yesterday. When I went to college I got a laptop and then when I started grad school my dad bought me a new laptop. That second laptop was on it’s last leg so Saturday G and I went to look at computers at Best Buy. I was all set on getting a new laptop, but after talking to the guy that worked there and looking at the desktops, I decided to go for a touch screen all-in-one desktop! So far, I love it. Now, if I could just get some Internet!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next post and what I wanted to write about. I’m still reading a lot of the Battle of the Books books and so far I loved Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson is one of my favorite YA authors and sometime soon I hope to do a post just on YA lit. Perhaps after I have finished my BOB reading list. I am in the midst of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Last week at school my co-coach told me that she got the questions for this book from another teacher which made me so happy. I am loving the story but I kept getting caught up in having to stop to write questions. I am happy to get to just read the book and enjoy the flow of the story.

My favorite season is upon us. I love Autumn. I love apples and pumpkins and leaves crunching under my feet and cooler air and sweaters and jackets and warm comfort food. To me Autumn is a time to curl up on the couch under a blanket on a grey day and read while enjoying a warm cup of apple cider. I started thinking about some of my favorite Fall comfort reads and I was having trouble coming up with books. I easily called to mind some authors whose books I must have read for the first time in the Fall or they just have such strong Fall themes that I can actually feel the chill in them.

My first Autumn Author is one of my all around favorite authors Alice Hoffman. Everything about Hoffman screams autumn. I started off my list with her book Practical Magic. Thinking about Practical Magic (which is definitely in my top ten books of all time) led me on a tangent about witchcraft and Halloween and I decided that next month I would write a post regarding my favorite Halloween-y books. Practical Magic isn’t very Halloween-y. It’s about family and traditions with magic sprinkled in. I rented the video when it first came out and I hated it. I didn’t watch it again until years later when there was a re-run on ABC Family. I got so into it and forgot why I ever hated it so. (Perhaps it was the fact that a 8 year old just can’t understand everything that occurs in the film). After that second viewing I rushed out to grab the novel. At that time I was very interested in reading all of Jodi Picoult’s books and I had been reading a lot of comparisons to Hoffman so I knew that this was perfect timing. I read the book in about 1 day and I adored it. It differs quite a bit from the movie, but they both have such an Autumn feel to them that I love them both independent of one another and I make a point to watch the movie and read the book (if I have time) each Autumn.

Another great Hoffman Autumn book is a collection of short stories that all revolve around one house in Massachusetts called Blackbird House. Honestly is there anything more Autumn and more magical than a blackbird!? I’m not normally a huge fan of straight short stories, but this book reads in a novel way since all the stories have that common element and you get glimpses of what became of the other characters in past stories. This book reads like a secret society and it is a great Autumn read. Honestly, any Hoffman books work well in this category, but these two books are just may favorite.

My second AA is Sarah Addison Allen. A native of the great state of North Carolina (and she sets all of her books here too!) Allen is a surprising pick for me. The first book I read of hers was Garden Spells and I honestly read it because it was cheap on the Nook and it was my first Nook purchase and I was desperate to read something on my brand new Nook. This book is also filled with magic but instead of the beautiful Autumn setting, we get it set in the middle of a hot summer. Magic always calls to mind Autumn for me. I think because I find the season such a magical time for myself I always crave books with magic in them. The most autumn-y Allen book that I can think of is really The Sugar Queen (which I will honestly tell you I have not read yet). This book takes place during the middle of winter instead of Autumn, but I know I can count on that magic to be there. At this current moment I have Allen’s newest book The Peach Keeper checked out from the library and I am anxious to start it.

Side note: Along with The Peach Keeper I also checked out The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag the second in the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley and I can not rave enough about these books. The fourth book in the series I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is due to come out in November and I jus can’t wait. I will need to read the third one in that time, but that should not be a problem at all. This winter look for a post on the Flavia series!

I elected to read Flavia first because I wanted to start Peach Keeper when the days are a little cooler, the air a little crisper, the leaves a little crunchier. This fall I am aiming to read only “magical” books. Books with witches and families and magic and spells. Of course in October I will also read about goblins and ghouls and all those scary things that I wait all year to read about.

So my last Autumn Author is actually an autumn book and it was one that I did not care for. A Discovery of Witches had such potential for a great Autumn read. So much so that I cheated and read it in the summer. I tried to convince myself that was why I detested the book so, but no, it was just not a book for me. I won’t continue on my rant about this book, you can find that here, in my previous post. However though, it is a magical family book and you may love it. I hope you do!

I am always looking for magical Autumn books so please send me any recommendations that you have! Happy Autumn and Happy Reading!

 

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“It’s not gender that makes a family; it’s love” -Jodi Picoult. Vanishing Acts

“No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.” -Born This Way by Lady GaGa

I just finished reading Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. Literally, just finished. I had grand plans of finishing the book, updating my status on GoodReads and then watching an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer before hitting the hay. However, I always get so riled up at Picoult’s books! In every single one that I have read I have loathed a character (sometimes more). I remember after finishing Perfect Match while riding in the passenger seat of my ex-boyfriends car on the way to get sushi. I was so furious with the writing, with the characters, with the plot and with the events that as soon as I read the last word I literally threw the book into the floor of the car and did not enjoy my sushi.

In Sing You Home I was LIVID the entire book with the Christian characters. As I stated before in my post on The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance I am a Christian. However, I do not hate homosexuals. In fact, I adore them. I adore their courage and their strength and their ability to live in a world that constantly puts them down, degrades them, refuses to give them the same rights as others, and just downright hates them. Don’t worry about this blog post giving anything away about the plot of the book as my posts usually do (sorry!). This post is going to be a rant. You’ve been warned.

I do not regularly attend church services where I currently live. However, I believe in God and I try to say a prayer each morning when I wake up and throughout the day when something awful is happening or when something wonderful is happening. I ask and I thank. To me, being a Christian means that you don’t play sneaky games, you don’t try to make yourself look better than others, you don’t put down people because they are different from you, you don’t attack others who are not the same as you. If you do those things, it makes you a Nazi, and that’s just about as un-Christian as they come. I’d rather die an atheist than a Nazi. To me, being a Christian means loving your fellow man unconditionally. Needless to say, there are several characters in this book who continuously tell people how “Christian” they are and yet, they are the true villains in this story.

Picoult does not write these characters as villains. In fact, she gives each character their own voice so that we as readers may see all perspectives equally and decide for ourselves who is the hero and who is the villain. Sure, at times I did find myself feeling a little more sympathy for those characters in which I am speaking about. However, when looking at the big picture of the novel, I knew who deep down truly loved their fellow man and who so did not.

Why do I find myself so upset at the end of Picoult’s novels? It’s rare with all of the books that are published to actually feel such strong emotions after a reading. However, without fail, I am always feeling something at the end (and through the reading of) of each of her novels. I cried for days at the end of My Sister’s Keeper (spoiler alert here: the book ends WAY differently than the movie). I was thankful for my family at the end of Vanishing Acts and I was hating my sushi and seeing red at the end of Perfect Match. Picoult’s books always have the same formula to them. Take a hot topic issue you’re likely to see on the evening news, add some kind of medical crisis, multiply by major courtroom drama, divide that all by a fragile family and you get a perfect Picoult piece of writing. Despite the predictability of her work, I still am driven to them and anxiously countdown the days until her latest is going to be released. Why? It’s because no matter how predictable the book is, I still know that I am going to feel something, and feel it strongly and have an honest reaction when I turn the last page.

(A very important project that Picoult is involved in and is worth everyone’s time. Please check out the Trevor Project: www.thetrevorproject.org)

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