sonk’s #CBR5 Reviews #59 – #65

I’m finally done!

#59: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)

#60: Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (3 stars)

#61: Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (2 stars)

#62: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (4 stars)

#63: Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker (3 stars)

#64: Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffman (4 stars)

#65: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (5 stars)

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loveallthis’s reviews #1-26: a roundup post!

loveallthis 2013 reads

I read and reviewed 26 books in 2013. Here they all are.

  1. Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner – 2 stars
  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 4 stars
  3. Among Others by Jo Walton – 4 stars
  4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – 2 stars
  5. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – 3 stars
  6. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire – 2 stars
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars
  8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 5 stars
  9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – 3 stars
  10. Some Things that Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr – 2 stars
  11. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace – 5 stars
  12. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – 4 stars
  13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 3 stars
  14. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain – 3 stars
  15. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter – 4 stars
  16. Stonemouth by Iain Banks – 4 stars
  17. Embassytown by China Mieville – 3 stars
  18. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – 4 stars
  19. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – 3 stars
  20. Shift by Hugh Howey – 4 stars
  21. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 5 stars
  22. Railsea by China Mieville – 2 stars
  23. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars
  24. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – 2 stars
  25. Oblivion by David Foster Wallace – 4 stars
  26. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt – 4 stars

Phew! On to next year. Happy reading, everyone!

ABR’s #CBR5 Review #26: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

xmas-carolAfter my failed attempt to get in the holiday spirit by reading Holidays On Ice, I picked up the surefire solution, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Nearly all of us know the story … Ebeneezer Scrooge is the original miser who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve in an attempt to redeem him.

You may think you have heard or seen the story so many times there isn’t a point to reading the book, but you’d be wrong. The book is perfect. It manages to be festive and foreboding, comical and creepy without the sentimentality that comes with so many holiday stories (many of which are interpretations of this very story).

Although it is relatively short – 170 or so pages – I spent a week reading it leisurely to my kids. Whether you read it alone, out loud to your family or find an audio version you can enjoy, I would highly recommend making this book part of your holiday traditions.

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #62: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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This is a really good book, plus one of the few that aren’t part of a series. It’s a world where water is running out. Lynn and her mother live on a farm and protect their little pond. There’s lots of action and drama. I loved how Lynn’s character changes and grows from her isolated life with her mother to her less isolated life after she ends up on her own.

Seriously, this was a great book. You can read my full review here.

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #60: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

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This was a really different YA novel, told from the point of view of a young lady afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder. She joins a support group for OCD and starts a relationship with a boy from the group.

The book is told entirely from the girl’s point of view. Some parts are really cringe-inducing, more so than your normal YA drama. It’s a little heavier than some books, but I really enjoyed the story and characters, and the glimpse of a different point of view.

You can read my full review here.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #101: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

bridget-jones-mad-about-the-boy1SPOILERS AHOY. Just this whole thing. Don’t even read it. Unless you don’t care about being spoiled about something that was in the news and people freaked out about on Twitter and also you learn in the very first paragraph of the book. In that case, welcome, dear friend.

When I say that I was sad about the news that Helen Fielding would be killing Mark Darcy in her third Bridget Jones book, I am practicing the rhetorical technique known as litotes, which is fancy asshole for “understatement.” The reason I am being a fancy asshole about it is that I have never in my life been more upset about the death of a fictional character than I was about Mark Darcy. ‘Devastated’ would be an accurate word for my emotional state. Also ‘destroyed.’ And ‘demolished.’ I am laid waste to. The more astute of you will notice that I am now employing the opposite of litotes, hyperbole, which is one of my favorite and most used forms of expression. I am doing this because I am a fancy asshole, as stated previously, but also because I am putting off as long as possible having to write the rest of this review, which I am convinced will crumble me until I am nothing more than dusty remains of what used to be a person.

Because Fuckin’ A, Mark Darcy is dead.

Initially, I wasn’t even going to read the thing. I felt betrayed. I felt it was unnecessary and cruel. And I hadn’t even liked the second book all that much anyway SO THERE. But then I got curious. And a friend reviewed it positively. And I gave in.

I’m so glad I did. I loved this book. I loved it hard. I loved it against my will.

If the first two books were about Bridget coping with the life of a terminally single woman, and then learning to navigate the perils of adult relationships, and both of those things were now accomplished, then what is the point of having a third book? Well, it turns out that what Bridget is coping with this time around is how a person can live through their grief and come out the other side. Fielding is also clearly interested in examining through Bridget the process of coming to terms with aging, and what’s like to have to start over after you thought you were done. You had it in the bag. And I think it’s something she succeeds at handily.

It’s not that these topics are anything new. Actually, I’m fairly sure there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of books written surrounding similar issues. What sets this one apart, however, is that we knew Bridget before she was a fifty-year old widow with two young children, grieving over a husband she loved very much. We fell in love with Mark Darcy as she fell in love with him, we experienced their relationship pangs and joys together, and we were almost as happy as she was when their story ended in a — what turned out to be — temporary happy ending. So now, we’re not just reading a story about a widow trying to start her life over and cope with her loss, we’re experiencing those losses with someone very like a friend. And we’re not just reading about her grief; we’re experience it right along with her. I felt physical pain during the scenes when Bridget thought about her dead husband, what his face looked like the night their daughter was born, how he kissed her goodbye the last time she saw him, how he would never see his children grow up.

And the thing about those scenes is that Fielding uses them so sparingly, interweaving them with episodes of Bridget’s awkwardness in dating, in parenting, in friendship, and in work, that they hit all that much harder when they appear. Bridget is trying so very hard to move past the death of her husband. She isn’t dwelling on it (at least anymore, but it’s been years in book time since Darcy’s death). Fielding’s style very much reflects Bridget’s state of mind. I found myself alternately sobbing and laughing on more than one occasion.

Because yes, this is a sad book. But is also a very, very funny one.

So if you take anything from this review, if you’re one of those people who are refusing to read this book because of what you heard on the news, I ask that you reconsider. It might stil be painful for you, but it will be painful in a way that feels true, and you will come out the other side just fine, just as Bridget does. Maybe you’ve just got a little more sadness mixed in with the rest.

I’m almost tempted to give Mad About the Boy five stars, writing this. But she did kill Mark Darcy after all, and we can’t let her completely get away with it.

[4.5 stars]

Sara Habein’s #CBR5 Post #36: MASTERMIND: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

mastermind-sherlock-holmes-konnikovaI confess a weakness for the most brilliant person in the room. People who are great at what they do, whatever their “thing” may be, are my favorites. Excellence is dead sexy, especially when it comes to intelligence and the desire to improve. For this reason, I’m interested in the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Oh, sure, he’s maddening to deal with — abrupt, insensitive, and distant at times — but the skill with which he gathers and assesses information is why his character has endured since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created him in 1887. In Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Maria Konnikova examines what goes into Holmes’ process, the way he can block out all other distractions in order to solve his cases, and how ordinary people can use these skills in their everyday life.

(Read the rest of my review at Glorified Love LettersPlus enter to win a copy of the book.)