"Some women have a weakness for shoes...I can go barefoot if necessary. I have a weakness for books."
Oprah Winfrey

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Sing You Home

One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds. Like her House Rules and several other previous Jodi Picoult novels, Sing You Home grapples with hot button issues. The novel also includes a CD of songs, each matched with a chapter in the book. Perfect for book clubs.

I quite liked this book but not as much as I've liked previous Picoult books. I've found the last few books I've read by her were a bit of a let down compared to usual. I've been reading them out of order so this is not a reflection of her recent works. I didn't necessarily feel let down by this book but I definitely wouldn't put it up there with her best.

I found the breakdown of Max and Zoe's relationship very realistic but everything that happened after that was quite rushed and not so realistic. The relationship happened extremely fast between Zoe and Vanessa. I thought it was very strange that Zoe would just fall in love with Vanessa without having any confusion herself. It seemed like Picoult was rushing the relationship to get to the battle at the end which is what her real story was about. 

I liked that the story was told from the three different perspectives that it was. It made it more interesting. I didn't bother with the CD that accompanied the book as I found it a bit gimmicky.

It is definitely worth a read for Picoult fans but for new Picoult readers I would recommend another of her books to begin with.

Divaliciouz Rating      *****

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Mystic River

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened -- something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay -- demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy's daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy's daughter died covered in someone else's blood.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, in which people irrevocably marked by the past find themselves on a collision course with the darkest truths of their own hidden selves.

I have loved the movie version of this book since its release and have watched it countless times. I am happy to report that the book is equally, and probably even more, fantastic. It is only my second Lehane book and I cannot wait to get through the rest.

I love how Lehane portrays Boston. It is so so realistic. I almost feel like I am standing on this streets and talking amongst these people. He is not afraid to give a true portrayal and unafraid to write real gritty characters and situations. His words flow and are so easy to read through. I think he uses lovely language. 

The story itself is harrowing. It's main theme I feel is loss. It deals with loss of life, loss of innocence, loss of childhood, loss of love. 

David's character is fascinating. He suffered unimaginably as a young boy and I think Lehane really captured how this affected him throughout his adult life. I wanted to shake him at times to get him to tell the truth but I was always on his side.

Jimmy is both a sympathetic character and a bad guy. I loved his loving fatherly side, the family man but I don't agree with his answering every problem through violence.

Sean also has his losses to deal with but he serves as a kind of go between to the other two guys and brings the story together and keeps it going. I think he really serves to show how the awful childhood incident affected them all both equally and differently. 

Lehane is a great writer and storyteller and I think you should all check him out.

Divaliciouz Rating     *****

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Am Legend and other stories by Richard Matheson

I am Legend and Other Stories

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.

By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?

I was pretty surprised to discover that this book was not just the story 'I Am Legend' but that it was actually made up of quite a lot of short stories. I was disappointed at first as it meant that I Am Legend itself was merely a short story but then when I had read quite a bit of the book I was very glad indeed. The stories were excellent.

What a great writer Matheson was. My first book of his that I had ever written and he dies on the very day I start to read it! It was so so strange.

Fans of the movie may or may not like the main story. I was a huge fan of the movie but still loved this original version. It made it unpredictable as they had changed so much of the book for the movie and this was great as, I find when reading books after watching the movie version, that they can become boring when you know what happens already.

Divaliciouz Rating     *****

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

No One You Know

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog, No One You Know is "a thoroughly riveting literary thriller" (Booklist, starred review). All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister. Until one day, without warning, the shape of their family changed forever. Twenty years ago, Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered in a crime that was never solved. In the aftermath of her sister’s death, Ellie entrusted her most intimate feelings to a man who turned the story into a bestselling true crime book—a book that both devastated her family and identified one of Lila’s professors as the killer.

Decades later, two Americans meet in a remote village in Nicaragua. Ellie is now a professional coffee buyer, an inveterate traveler and incapable of trust. Peter is a ruined academic. And their meeting is not by chance. As rain beats down on the steaming rooftops of the village, Peter leaves Ellie with a gift—the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, a piece of evidence not found with her body. Stunned, Ellie will return home to San Francisco to explore the mysteries of Lila’s notebook, filled with mathematical equations, and begin a search that has been waiting for her all these years. It will lead her to a hundred-year-old mathematical puzzle, to a lover no one knew Lila had, to the motives and fate of the man who profited from their family’s anguish—and to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other. As she connects with people whose lives unknowingly swirled around her own, Ellie will confront a series of startling revelations—from the eloquent truths of numbers to confessions of love, pain and loss.

My first book by Richmond and it certainly won't be my last. She is one of those authors that write really page turning stories. While reading it I added all her novels to my to-read list on Goodreads and had a lovely surprise when she actually emailed me through the site to thank me for doing so! I love authors that connect with their readers.

I was immediately hooked on this story. Lila was such an intriguing character and I was really stumped as to who could have killed her. I was never right. Ellie was also a really interesting character. She wasn't the typical main character of a story like this. 

Divaliciouz Rating     *****

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Year of the Fog by Michelle Richmond

The Year of Fog

Life changes in an instant. On a foggy beach. In the seconds when Abby Mason—photographer, fiancĂ©e soon-to-be-stepmother—looks into her camera and commits her greatest error. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and beautifully told, here is the riveting tale of a family torn apart, of the search for the truth behind a child’s disappearance, and of one woman’s unwavering faith in the redemptive power of love—all made startlingly fresh through Michelle Richmond’s incandescent sensitivity and extraordinary insight.

Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.

Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. With her life at a crossroads, she will leave San Francisco for a country thousands of miles away. And there, by the side of another sea, on a journey that has led her to another man and into a strange subculture of wanderers and surfers, Abby will make the most astounding discovery of all—as the truth of Emma’s disappearance unravels with stunning force.

Oh man did this book have me hooked! 

I stayed up late every night reading it and simply had to stay up til 3:20 AM this morning to finish it. I felt lost when I finished it, like only those truly great page-turning books can do. If it wasn't in my hand I felt anxious! Funny how books can do that to you. It was beautifully writtem, engaging and hard to predict.

Missing children has been a topic I have had an increasing interest in every since the awful story of Madeliene McCann. I had her on my mind all through reading this. I think that Richmond really did her research on this topic. I really felt like this is how families would react in this situation. To tell the story from the POV of the stepmother was a fantastic idea. I feel like it would've been a totally different and probably not as interesting story if we had had it told from the father's POV. 

Divaliciouz Rating     *****

Friday, July 12, 2013

Urban Gothic by Brian Keene

When their car broke down in a dangerous neighborhood of the inner city, Kerri and her friends thought they would find shelter in the old dark row house. They thought it was abandoned. They thought they would be safe there until morning. They were wrong on all counts. The residents of the row house live in the cellar and rarely come out in the light of day. They're far worse than anything on the streets outside. And they don't like intruders. Before the sun comes up, Kerri and her friends will fight for their very lives... though death is only part of their nightmare.

I just finished this book and have never previously read any of Keene's work. I feel like I will read another of his books but I won't be in a huge rush to either.

The premise of the story is great. Nothing I haven't heard before but great all the same. However, it suffered from unlikeable main characters which is a huge pet peeve of mine in a story. The main characters who get themselves in this horrible situation are so spoiled, rude, racist, selfish and ignorant that I really did not care who lived or died. The secondary characters to the story however are fantastic. I felt like there should have been way more chapters concerning Leo and co. They were funny and had way more intelligence than the idiots who ended up in the house.

I would recommend reading it for sure but be warned about the graphic grossness which I was completely OK with but certain people may not be able to tolerate it!

Divaliciouz Rating     *****


My darling readers I have been severely neglecting you!

I have been so so so so busy. Busier than I ever thought I would be. But now I have two months off from work so I am yours once again.

Never fear, I have fortunately had time to read. And I have also found a gem of a used book store which I will write about shortly.

I've got some catching up to do....