Monday, January 6, 2014

Holiday Reading - Three Book Reviews

The kids have gone back to school and my house and I can take a little breath. Finally, it's quiet enough that I can sit down to write some reviews.

I mostly read books that are sent to me to read and review and I love it. But as a serious book-lover, I continue to buy or am gifted copies of other books that I want to read and my shelves are getting so full! And with all the great deals on e-books lately, my Kindle is getting full too. It's awesome, really. During the Christmas holiday, I was caught up on reviews and decided that I would read several books from my shelves.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

On a cold and stormy February night in 1911, a baby is born dead. The cord is around her neck and the doctor was caught in the snow.

Ursula Todd was born on a cold February night in 1911. Though the cord was around her neck, the able doctor, who had thankfully been able to make it to make it through the storm, was able to cut the cord and the baby lived.

Over and over Ursula will be born and live and die.

Marvelously written and told, Ursula's many lives open up the possibilities of saving the world from the devastating effects of World War II. Details of life in England and Berlin during the terrible bombing raids of the war and a deep desire to prevent the war from ever happening, bring to mind the thoughts of "what if" and "if only". With such a clever and unusual theme, I so enjoyed this novel. Utah Dad and Neal and my dad and anyone else who would listen got to hear me go on and on about it.

Inventive, philosophical and entertaining, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is brilliant!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I bought the kindle version of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell while it was on sale and because I had heard so much buzz about the fun Young Adult novel.

Cath is nervous and anxious about her first year of college. She's worried about leaving her unstable father at home by himself, and her twin sister Wren is insisting on living in a different dorm. Cath, who is obsessed with Simon Snow the hero of a very popular series of fantasy books (think Harry Potter), writes fan fiction about Simon and his roommate Baz that has earned its own fan base.

Prickly and distant, Cath has no intentions of making new friends at college. But even she can't resist the attempts at friendship from her outspoken and edgy roommate Reagan and Reagan's boyfriend Levi.

The sweet romance and the college atmosphere in Fangirl took me right back to my own college creative writing course where I fell in love with the geeky-cute boy who could write funny. Man, he really was funny. Rowell has a gift for creating quirky, fun characters and ahhh-worthy romances. I pretty much adored Cath and Levi.

However, I didn't really care about the fan fiction part. Obviously, it was a central part of a book called "Fangirl" but I found some of the fiction about Simon and Baz distracting from Cath's own love story and ended up skipping much of the longer parts toward the end.

Also, just so you know, there is excessive and casual swearing.

Overall, Fangirl is a delightful, readable novel with likable characters and a sweet romance.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Everyone I knew who had read Me Before You, loved it. Raved about it. So, obviously I wanted to read it too. One of my online book friends (check out her great book blog *here*) sent me a copy this Christmas. I was so excited! I took it with me on our trip to visit my parents over the New Year holiday so I had to read it in moments when I could slip away from the crowd.

Louisa Clark loses her job as a waitress for the cafe near the castle. With the money she brought in at her job, she helped support the household that includes her parents, her sister, nephew and her disabled grandfather. Right in the middle of the recession, her paycheck was an important part of the household income and she is desperate to find a new job.

Avoiding a job at the local chicken factory, Louisa is hired to assist Will Traynor, once a highly-successful business man who loved extreme sports, now a quadriplegic following a tragic accident. Will is depressed and no longer wants to live. Louisa takes on the charge to make his life brighter and help him see that even in a wheelchair life is worth living.

Written so well, that the story and characters come alive and the words on the page simply disappear, Me Before You was nearly a perfect novel. With a developing and tragic love story, Moyes shows that not only the physically injured are crippled. Louisa, as much as Will, learn to love and to live. While I am still conflicted about the profound and thoughtful ending, I thoroughly enjoyed Me Before You.


Booklogged said...

I always enjoy your reviews. Somewhere, in my early days of blogging, I developed an avoidance of Kate Atkinson. I have never read anything by her but when I've seen her name as the author of a book I just skip the review, thinking I don't want to read anything by her. Like I said, I don't know where or why this feeling developed but I can see from your review that I better face it head on and read Life After Life.

I can easily skip the YA book. I used to enjoy an occasional dip into that genre but not anymore. The teenage angst gets under my skin. Of course, if there's another Book Thief out there I will definitely take another plunge!

I received a review copy of Me Before You before it was released but didn't get around to reading it. Since then I've read so many good reviews for Jojo Moyes that I have put this book on my "soon-to-read" list. I have stopped accepting books for review because I feel guilty if I don't get them read and reviewed.

Loved the holidays, but was glad when school started back up and routines were reestablished.

Read Baby Read said...

I am glad you enjoyed it! Two of the books are on my "to-read" list. Xo

Unknown said...

Great reviews Cindi, and the first two are waiting for me to find time to squeeze them in.

Jennifer Davis said...

I also bought Fangirl, but haven't read it yet. I'm not a huge love story person, but I want to read the last one. It sounds too good to pass up.