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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review - The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf













Title: The Weight of Silence 
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Year: 2009
Page: 373
Genre: Fiction

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads.com):
It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.
                                                                   
Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost  her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.


First Sentence:
Louis and I see you nearly at the same time.  

Why did I pick this book?
I am in a bit of a reading rut, Tea Time with Marce highly recommended this book (see her review here) so I thought I'd give it a go. Even though we don't always share the same views on books, I respect her opinions!  

My thoughts:
  • I enjoyed books written with multiple narratives, as you get to know each character a bit better, since not all see things the same way. This book was written from these characters' perspectives: Callie (7 years old "selective mute" girl), Callie's mum Antonia, Callie's 12 years old brother Ben, Callie's best friend Petra, Callie's best friend's dad Martin and The Deputy Sheriff Louis. The interesting writing technique was that Callie was written from a 3rd person perspective, Ben's was a combination of 1st and 2nd (to Callie), while the rest was written in in 1st.
  • I have to say though the voices aren't very distinctive. I have to rely on the character's name at the beginning of each chapter to see who was speaking. I would have thought that at least the voices from the children and the adult would differ more. Well, all characters probably should have their distinct voice.
  • I also wonder if Petra's perspective was necessary. There were only maybe 2 or 3 chapters? And they were short and didn't add a lot to the story.
  • The plot was a bit predictable though, unfortunately, and it wasn't too hard to figure out why Callie stopped speaking
  • I did like the children in the book - I liked Callie and Petra's friendship, and the brother-sister relationship between Ben and Callie. 
  • I have to say I don't like Antonia - I also don't quite understand her decisions on multiple issues. I get that not all characters have to be perfect, but it just gets frustrating sometimes
  • I don't get why authors (not just this one) used similar names for characters (mostly minor ones) in the same books, where there are plenty of names out there? This is the 3rd time in the past few books. In this book, it is Callie's dad's 2 friends: Roger Hogan and Logan Roper
  • Again, this is the 3rd time in some recent books - what is the point of the prologue when it gives away too much of the plot? 
  • Not a bad read, but some room for improvement

     
    Rating: 3 Stars



     
    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


    Challenges:
    100+ Reading

    Book Review - The Faculty Club by Danny Tobey














    Title: The Faculty Club
    Author: Danny Tobey
    Year: 2010
    Page: 320
    Genre: Fiction - Thriller

    New to me author? Yes
    Read this author again? Probably not
    Tearjerker? No
    Where did it take place? US
    FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

    Summary (from goodreads.com):
    At the world’s most exclusive law school, there’s a secret society rumored to catapult its members to fame and fortune. Everyone is dying to get in...

    Jeremy Davis is the rising star of his first-year class. He’s got a plum job with the best professor on campus. He’s caught the eye of a dazzling Rhodes scholar named Daphne. But something dark is stirring behind the ivy. When a mysterious club promises success beyond his wildest dreams, Jeremy uncovers a macabre secret older than the university itself. In a race against time, Jeremy must stop an ancient ritual that will sacrifice the lives of those he loves most and blur the lines between good and evil.

    In this extraordinary debut thriller, Danny Tobey offers a fascinating glimpse into the rarefied world of an elite New England school and the unthinkable dangers that lie within its gates. He deftly weaves a tale of primeval secrets and betrayal into an ingenious brain teaser that will keep readers up late into the night.

    Packed with enigmatic professors, secret codes, hidden tunnels, and sinister villains, The Faculty Club establishes Danny Tobey as this season’s most thrilling new author.



    First Sentence:
    I remember my mother's reaction when I got accepted to the greatest law school in the world. 
      
    Why did I pick this book?
    I saw it on the "new book" shelves at the library a few months back and borrowed it - I was attracted by its cover and the premise. I ended up not having time to read it and returned it. Then I saw it again a couple of weeks back, the premise still sounded very interesting (Secret Club!) so thought I'd try it again.


    My thoughts:
    • It started off very promising and interesting... and then it went downhill from there. It got unrealistic and then weird. I think it was trying too hard to be a story (think Indiana Jones or the Da Vinci Code) full of puzzles and adventures that it became too much of a cliche.
    • I didn't quite like any of the characters, and some characters didn't get to develop much (and they set up to have bigger roles)
    • The ending was disappointing too
    • I guess I did learn a couple of new things: Ship of Theseus (p259) and "Shepardizing" legal cases



      Rating: 1 Star



       
      Have you read this book? 
      If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


      Challenges:
      100+ Reading

      Sunday, October 24, 2010

      Updates

      • Wow, finally caught up with all the reviews! Probably because my reading had slowed down too...
      • Felt like I'm in a reading runt. Everything seemed not good enough :p I think that's probably because I'd been really busy with work with new projects and deadlines, so had less time to read. Thus when I do get to read, I want to read something good, so that I'm not wasting my precious little time that I get to read!
      • I am also sorry that I hadn't visited anyone's blogs for weeks... now that it's getting colder, we probably will stay home more often on the weekends, then perhaps I'll have more time to catch up on everyone's blogs...
      • I will be having a yummy give away on Monday, 10/25/10, so what out for it!
      • Another reason I was busy was... we adopted a 3rd cat! Yes I went from petless to 3 in 3 months... we have a good reason though. While the first 2 cats get along fine, Kunik really wants to wrestle and chase, while Tallulah doesn't.  Tallulah is fine living with other cats, and doesn't mind Kunik grooming her sometime, but she's just not into playing with him that much (she'd play with interactive toys like Da Bird and Panic Cat). Kunik just seems sad and bored. We looked at the local rescue / shelters for a few weeks - while the other cats were cute, none of them stood out to us, until we met this little guy!













      • We got him a few days ago, and are still thinking of a name for him. His left eye looked a little funny in the photo as he was recovering from a cold. He's a Siamese-Mix, about 3.5 months old.
      • He's in an isolated room right now, but had let him out a couple of times for a supervised visit. Boy, he and Kunik started wrestling and chasing almost straight away! When we first got Tallulah, Kunik would follow her, but didn't really try to wrestle her until much later. I don't know why, but Kunik decided to start early this time! And luckily the little guy was up for it even though he's probably less than half of Kunik's size. He was a little scared a first but he got over it. His foster mum rescued him from the side of the road, or he'd have been euthanize. The foster mum didn't have any cats, but had 5 dogs, including a greyhound! So this little kitten is a little fearless. We really hope that once he's out of his "jail", he'd get along with the other 2 cats fine!
      • Tallulah and the little kitten had sniffed each other, and then went their way. I think Tallulah is just happen that Kunik has someone else to wrestle with, and will leave her alone! As long as she has food and gets petted, she's happy.
      • So far, no hissing or growling from anybody, so fingers crossed! 
      • And this is it - 3 cats, no more! :)  

      Book Review - The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y. K. Lee














      Title: The Piano Teacher: A Novel
      Author: Janice Y. K. Lee
      Year: 2009
      Page: 328
      Genre: Fiction - Historical

      New to me author? Yes
      Read this author again? No
      Tearjerker? No
      Where did it take place? Hong Kong
      FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

      Summary (from goodreads.com):
      In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. 


      First Sentence:
      It started as an accident.
        
      Why did I pick this book?
      It was part of book club read. Actually I suggested it as a pick, after reading numerous good reviews on different blogs. I was really interested in in as I lived in Hong Kong for 13 years, and played the piano, so I felt like I could relate to the book. This book eventually was voted to be part of this month's book club choice.


      My thoughts:
      • Meh. Why did I waste my time? I was so looking forward to it as I wanted to read another good historical fiction ("The Help" was a great read, and I usually don't like historical fiction). I thought the combination of a story setting in Hong Kong and something about the piano would make me like it a little bit at least!
      • Seriously, after I read it, I thought, what was the point of the story? What was the author trying to say? And I couldn't think of a good reason... to me, the author wanted to pack too much into a book, and because of that, everything was just left hanging and not gone into depth enough - it had a somewhat love triangle (I won't even call it a romance), a mystery of the Crown Collection, expats / high society living in Hong Kong, before / after the WWII, a twist about the identity of one of the minor characters, etc etc etc...
      • I don't even know why the title was chosen as that wasn't even a big part of the story
      • Some of the actions by the characters made you go huh? What did that add to the story (for those who had read it - it's about Claire and what happened in the first chapter - wasn't really explained)
      • The characters weren't likable either. 
      • Some chapters were quite choppy, and the writing style wasn't consistent throughout the book. I caught myself re-reading the lines several times to see if I really read what I thought I read. It was almost like the author wanted to reveal something big, but it ended up being pretentious and confusing. (I should've noted the page numbers, but forgot)
      • The love triangle wasn't that great - they happened too easily and I don't see how they could be so memorable
      • The mystery/twist also wasn't that shocking
      • I was hoping to read more about how WWII and its brutality. It touched on it a bit but not a whole lot.
      • I just felt like I wasted my time reading this - it has potential but everything was just left hanging instead. In fact, it probably would have been a better story if it was just about Trudy and Will, and leave the part about Claire. But then, since Claire was the piano teacher, the title would have to be changed! Not that it is a good title for the current story... 

         
        Rating: 1 Star



         
        Have you read this book? 
        If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


        Challenges:
        100+ Reading

        Book Review - Think of a Number: A Novel by John Verdon














        Title: Think of a Number: A Novel
        Author: John Verdon
        Year: 2010
        Page: 432
        Genre: Fiction - Murder / Mystery / Suspense

        New to me author? Yes
        Read this author again? Yes
        Tearjerker? No
        Where did it take place? US
        FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

        Summary (from goodreads.com):
        An extraordinary fiction debut, Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates, forcing its deeply troubled characters to moments of startling self-revelation.

        Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.”  Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly.  For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.

        What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air.  Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.

        Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe.  Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.

        In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.

        A work that defies easy labels -- at once a propulsive masterpiece of suspense and an absorbing immersion in the lives of characters so real we seem to hear their heartbeats – Think of a Number is a novel you’ll not soon forget. 



        First Sentence:
        "Where were you?" said the old woman in the bed.
          
        Why did I pick this book?
        I was browsing on TLC website to see what books were upcoming, and this book was listed. The premise sounded very promising so I wanted to read it - now I'm not part of the book tour, and I don't know when the tour is (quite likely that it's started? I am afraid I hadn't read any blogs for a while...). So I don't know what the reviews are like apart from what's on amazon and goodreads. 

        My thoughts:
        • This is the author's first book and I thought it was a good effort!
        • Now, the protagonist wasn't very likable, and the voice of the book was a little flat - in some way the voice reminded me a bit of Shutter Island. That the protagonist seemed a bit distant (I read Shutter Island a while back, before I blog, so I don't know exactly why I thought the voice made me think of Shutter Island, just that if I had to pick a similar book in terms of character, that'd be it.)
           
        • The twists and such definitely added to the suspense, though I have to say, I guessed the puzzle and the murderer. But it was still fun to work out the puzzles and see the truth unfolded, and read the explanations in a logical, analytical way
           
        • Some characters were a bit too stereotype e.g. District Attorney Kline and Captain R. 
        • I don't know if the prologue was really necessary? It definitely made me guess the killers sooner...

          Quote:
          That boulder is your image of yourself, who you think you are. The person you think you are is keeping the person you really are locked up without light or food or friends. The person you think you are has been trying to murder the person you really are for as long as you both have lived." (p97)


          "The purpose of life is to get as close as we can to other people... An isolated life is a wasted life." (p302)



           
          Rating: 4 Stars



           
          Have you read this book? 
          If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


          Challenges:
          100+ Reading

          Book Review - Innocent by Scott Turow














          Title: Innocent
          Author: Innocent by Scott Turow
          Year: 2010
          Page: 448
          Genre: Fiction - Legal Thriller

          New to me author? No
          Read this author again? Yes
          Tearjerker? No
          Where did it take place? US
          FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

          Summary (from goodreads.com):
          In 2008, 22 years after the events of the earlier book, former lawyer Rusty Sabich, now a Kindle County, Ill., chief appellate judge, is again suspected of murdering a woman close to him. His wife, Barbara, has died in her bed of what appear to be natural causes, yet Rusty comes under scrutiny from his old nemesis, acting prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto, who unsuccessfully prosecuted him for killing his mistress decades earlier. Tommy's chief deputy, Jim Brand, is suspicious because Rusty chose to keep Barbara's death a secret, even from their son, Nat, for almost an entire day, which could have allowed traces of poison to disappear. Rusty's candidacy for a higher court in an imminent election; his recent clandestine affair with his attractive law clerk, Anna Vostic; and a breach of judicial ethics complicate matters further.



          First Sentence:
          A man is sitting on a bed.
            
          Why did I pick this book?
          I read the first book or prequel, Presumed Innocent, back in 1999 - I picked it off the book shelf at a book store randomly. Read it, and LOVED it because it was clever. That was my first legal thriller and I got hooked since. Now, I seriously don't remember much from that book (characters or plots) other than Scott Turow's name really left a mark. So when I heard this 2nd book coming out this year (Turow has written other books in between and I'd read a few), I have to read it!


          My thoughts:
          • I admitted that I had to google spoilers from the first book to remind myself who the characters were, and what happened, before I read this book. Overall, I think this new book is not bad, but didn't have the same impact as I did with the first book. 
          • The book was written from several narrative, and some were written in first person and some in third person, which made it rather confusing at times
          • Nat, the main protagonist's son, was 28 years old and supposedly very smart. He didn't come across so in the book. He appeared whiny and weak (has nothing to do with him crying - I don't mind men crying!). All I knew was his IQ was high (but no actions to support that) and that he was gorgeous (and yet no description on how he really looked)
          • Anna, the main protagonist's law clerk, seemed too stereotypical and not realistic. 
          • The ending was disappointing. I thought the killer was someone else, and the author certainly set up the story like so, but of course that'd be too easy so he had to give it a twist that isn't very satisfying - motive wasn't strong, and just seemed convenient
          • But, the part I liked best was the legal strategies used. Strategies, logic, etc just fascinated me. Don't think I'd make a very good lawyer though!
          • I do also like the cover - the gold fingerprints are metallic and embossed, and relevant to the story.
          • If you want a great legal thriller, I'd recommend you read the first book, Presumed Innocent. This one is just okay and a little long.

             
            Rating: 3.5 Stars



             
            Have you read this book? 
            If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


            Challenges:
            100+ Reading

            Book Review - Let Darkness Come by Angela Hunt













            Title: Let Darkness Come
            Author: Angela Hunt
            Year: 2009
            Page: 384
            Genre: Fiction - Legal Thriller

            New to me author? Yes
            Read this author again? Maybe
            Tearjerker? No
            Where did it take place? US
            FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

            Summary (from goodreads.com):
            The murder trial promises to be the most sensational to hit Chicago in years. And attorney Briley Lester knows it could make—or break— her career. The tabloid headlines are screaming that a long-mistreated society wife has killed her abusive husband—the scion of one of the city's wealthiest, most powerful, most dangerous families….It seems like a hopeless, open-and-shut case, but Briley is becoming more and more convinced that her client truly is innocent. A tragic secret, almost too shocking to be believed, could be the key to proving it. But before she can bring the truth into the light, she'll have to face this woman's shadow-haunted past—and her own— and let darkness come….

            First Sentence:
            The night was made for murder.
              
            Why did I pick this book?
            I think I read on another blog about another book by Angela Hunt. It had great review. I searched our library, and we didn't have that particular book (forgot which one!) but had Let Darkness Come instead, so I thought I'd give this one a try as I wanted to read a good legal thriller!


            My thoughts:
            • The reason I like reading murder / mystery is because I get to guess who the killer is - it's like a game for me to solve the puzzle (much preferable to crosswords!). And I guess the reason I like Legal Thriller is that, while you usually know who the killer is in the beginning, it is fun to see how the lawyers argue or find evidence to win or lose the case. It appeals to the argumentative side of me I guess, using logic!
            • What made this book a bit different is that the main protagonist, Briely, is an inexperienced criminal lawyer - this was her first murder case. So you don't quite know how she's going to handle it. She would even admit that she made mistakes in court, and explained why it was a mistake - so it was interesting for someone like me who is not a lawyer to know the reasoning behind their tactics
            • I always wonder why author uses the same name in a book for 2 different characters, when there is no hidden meaning behind them? There was a Big Shirley in prison, and then the housekeeper is Shirley Walker.
            • I also wonder what happened to one of the minor characters, there was a big deal about him/her being a spy, but then that character just disappeared or not mentioned again?
              • It was also fascinating to read how lawyers would selectively present certain facts only to support their arguments. But is it really ethical? I guess it's all part of the system, part of the game.
              • While it was fun to read about an imperfect lawyer, the basis of the case was a bit far-fetched and made it a bit too convenient. I did learn something new as I hadn't heard of this basis before (don't want to say what it is or it'd spoil the story).

              • Also, I don't know if the prologue was really necessary? I don't know if it adds much to the story. 
                Quote:

                That seeing isn't believing. Reliving is seeing. (p345)
                 
                Rating: 3 Stars



                 
                Have you read this book? 
                If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                Challenges:
                100+ Reading

                Book Review - Mockingjay (#3 of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins













                Title: Mockingjay (#3 of the Hunger Games)
                Author: Suzanne Collins
                Year: 2010
                Page: 398
                Genre: Fiction - Young Adult, Dystopian

                New to me author? No
                Read this author again? Maybe...
                Tearjerker? No
                Where did it take place? US
                FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                Summary (from goodreads.com):
                Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

                It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

                The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.



                First Sentence:
                I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.
                  
                Why did I pick this book?
                I really liked The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, so of course I have to read #3 in the series!


                My thoughts:
                • What a big disappointment!!!
                • Okay, now that's out... It was a big let down - the Katniss that I liked, instead of showing courage and strength, became whiny and acted on impulse. Now, maybe it was realistic in real life that, under the circumstances she went through, she'd have changed somewhat... but still. Everything in the book became too cliche, and I guessed part of the ending.
                • I know some people didn't like it because too many characters died. That's not really the reason I didn't like it. I just thought the plot was no where near as engaging, and at parts, slow and boring. Not sure if the "afterword" was really necessary either. Typically I prefer books with sad endings rather than happy endings (make them more memorable) - but either way is still better than flat endings like this one!
                • Team P or Team G? After reading the book, I couldn't even care less. While I liked that the author didn't focus on the romance throughout the book, I thought the outcome of the relationship was forced, and well, was too convenient
                • I did like that we got to know Prim a bit better, and saw her mature and developed more
                • I also liked that we got to see another side of Haymitch
                • Am I the only one who got confused about Flavius and Fluvia???
                • I have to say though, the recent rescue of the Chilean minors, reminded me of Katniss' and Gale's dads in the mines in District 12. I am glad we DO have a happen ending with the Chilean miners!
                • Overall, would I recommend this series? I am a bit torn. The first 2 books, definitely. But Book 3 was disappointing. I suppose I'd still recommend the series, and let you be the judge, since there ARE fans out there who do like Book 3. Maybe I need to read their reviews to see why - I may be missing something (I have been avoiding reviews in case of spoilers... and of course there was one comment I read that revealed too much of one of the character, argh!)

                  Quote:
                  Underground, where I dread dying, which is stupid because even if I die aboveground, the next thing they'll do is bury me underground anyway (p296).

                   
                  Rating: 2 Stars



                   
                  Have you read this book? 
                  If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                  Challenges:
                  100+ Reading
                  Young Adult

                  Monday, October 18, 2010

                  Book Review - Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue













                  Title: Room: A Novel
                  Author: Emma Donoghue
                  Year: 2010
                  Page: 321
                  Genre: Fiction

                  New to me author? Yes
                  Read this author again? Probably
                  Tearjerker? No
                  Where did it take place? ?
                  FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                  Summary (from goodreads.com):
                  To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It's where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in case Old Nick comes.

                  Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she's been held for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for her son. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's desperation -- and she knows Room cannot contain either indefinitely. ...

                  Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.



                  First Sentence:
                  1st - Today I'm five.  

                  Why did I pick this book?
                  Heard lots of good things about it from blogsphere. I think it got nominated from some type of award too (sorry I don't follow all the awards closely... I don't choose my books base on the shortlist or winners...) The storyline sounds promising.

                  My thoughts:
                  • First thought after I was done - it reminded me of Still Missing: A Novel by Chevy Stevens. Except, this book was told by a 5 years-old (Jack), instead of a 32 years-old. And I guess since this was told from a young boy's perspective, it made the events more chilling, given his innocence (e.g. not understanding what's really happening, while we, only know too well)
                  • Jack, seemed way more mature than a 5 years-old, using vocabularies that I didn't think 5 years-old would use, especially given the fact that his mum was 19 when she was kidnapped. However, I don't have any kids, so who knows. Maybe kids nowadays mature way faster than I ever was :)
                  •  I was impressed with the games Jack's mum came up with to help Jack's development. Who needs toys? :)
                  • This is definitely a character driven novel, not a plot-driven one. So, definitely not a thriller - there is not a whole not happening... another similarity to Still Missing, is the lack of the kidnapper's perspective.
                  • There was also something "Ma" did near the end of the book that I couldn't quite comprehend why she did what she did. But I guess for those who were went through what she did, who knows exactly how they'd feel
                  • {{{SPOILER}}} The storyline definitely reminded me of similar imprisonment cases in recent years (e.g. girls who got kidnapped then later found alive, often with kids fathered by the kidnapper). I guess it made this book more realistic? If any memoir come out from these real-life crimes, I'd definitely read them {{{ End Spoiler}}} In fact, the author listed some of the research she did in this article and it's quite fascinating. In particular, she researched on feral children. How heartbreaking. I didn't know there is such a term as feral children...
                  • I found this quote by Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) that really summed up how I felt about Room: "Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up; the world looks the same, but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."
                  • I gave this 4 stars. Probably would have been higher if we got to hear a bit more from Ma or the kidnapper - more of a plot rather than just characters. But maybe that's asking too much since that'd be my ideal book, rather than what the author wanted to write.

                    Quote:


                    {{{SPOILER}}} When I was four I thought everything in TV was just TV, then I was five and Ma unlied about lots of it being pictures of real and Outside being totally real. Now I'm in Outside but it turns out lots of it isn't real at all. (p277)

                     
                    Rating: 4 Stars



                     
                    Have you read this book? 
                    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                    Challenges:
                    100+ Reading

                    Sunday, October 17, 2010

                    Book Review - The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride













                    Title: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother 
                    Author: James McBride
                    Year: 1997
                    Page: 336
                    Genre: Non-fiction: Memoir

                    New to me author? Yes
                    Read this author again? Probably not
                    Tearjerker? No
                    Where did it take place? US
                    FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                    Summary (from goodreads.com):
                    Order this book ... and please don't be put off by its pallid subtitle, A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, which doesn't begin to do justice to the utterly unique and moving story contained within. The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered. In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Water addresses racial identity with compassion, insight, and realism. It is, in a word, inspiring, and you will finish it with unalloyed admiration for a flawed but remarkable individual. And, perhaps, a little more faith in us all.


                    First Sentence:
                    As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from -- where she was born, who her parents were.
                     
                    Why did I pick this book?
                    Book club pick.

                    My thoughts:
                    • I was excited to read this book as I enjoy reading memoir, and this sounds like an interesting read. I was looking forward to it as the book club pick so far had been so-so (granted, I joined the book club so I'd read more books I generally won't choose, so it is to be expected that I haven't really loved any of them yet)
                    • I thought it was just okay, so I was a bit disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectation. I guess the reason being it wasn't as emotional a read as I was hoping. I was hoping to read a story that would made me cry
                    • In the beginning I was a bit confused about the 2 narratives (James' and his mother's) so I got confused about what is happening to who and when. The mother's perspective was written in italic which made it difficult to read - I don't mind italic if it's just a paragraph or so, but not if it went for pages.
                    • I felt the saddest for James' maternal grandmother - such a tragedy figure. I would've liked to hear more about her.
                    • It was also heart warming to read James' mother was able to meet two men who loved her so much - some people couldn't even meet one person like so in their lifetime!
                    • Overall, just an okay read for me... maybe I had high expectations. Everyone else except one person liked the book in the book club. 

                       
                      Rating: 3 Stars



                       
                      Have you read this book? 
                      If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                      Challenges:
                      100+ Reading
                      Memorable Memoir