Monday, March 26, 2012

The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black (Movie Tie-in Edition): A Ghost StoryThe Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill
Source: Purchased
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I must admit I picked this book up because I thought the movie trailers looked really creepy. I came to the conclusion that the movie being advertised had to be based on a pretty darn good book and I ALWAYS like to read the book before I see the movie. Nine times out of ten, if not more often than that, I like the book better. In this case, I can't compare because I have not yet seen the movie, but I can definitely say that the book was indeed very good. It is a well-written, perfectly paced, ghost story. Read this one alone, in the dark, at night and you are sure to give yourself a good scare. 


Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium trilogy #2
Published by: HarperTeen
Date: Feb. 28, 2012
How did I get this book? Purchased
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

I rarely get the opportunity to say this, but I enjoyed this second book in the Delirium series even more than the first. To briefly recap, this series is set in a dystopian world where love is a disease. Teenagers are required to undergo a procedure that "cures" them and makes it impossible to fall in love. The first book follows Lena's journey toward realizing how wrong this all is. She falls in love herself and she builds up enough courage to attempt an escape to the Wilds, the only place to go if you defy the government mandates. 

Pandemonium picks up right where Delirium left off and we follow Lena into her new life in the Wilds. The Wilds may be a place to escape to, but they are not safe. Lena faces all kinds of challenges as she tries to piece together a new life for herself. There's romance, adventure, danger, surprises - all the things I love in a book. 

One thing I love to hate about Lauren Oliver as an author is that she is the QUEEN of a cliff-hanger ending. The ending to this book was nothing short of breath-taking, absolutely fabulous. Then, I closed the book and remembered just how long I am going to have to wait to find out what happens next. I actually hated the ending to her first book until I realized it was not actually the end. And now that I have the sequel I so desperately wanted, I am again left begging for the next installment to be published sooner. Tomorrow would be nice. (Pretty, pretty please?)


Hana by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium trilogy #1.5 (a short story)
Published by: HarperTeen
Date: Feb. 28, 2012
How did I get this book? Purchased
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

This short story is for the fans of the Delirium series. It is basically a portion of the first book, but told from the point of view of the main character's best friend, Hana. It was a quick read and helped to refresh my memory in preparation for reading the second book in the series, Pandemonium. I'm not a huge fan of short stories in general and this is not as good as the full length books, but I still recommend this one if you liked Delirium. It helps fill in some blanks and explain the motivations behind some of Hana's actions. I don't want to give too much away, but an important secret is also revealed. It answers a question I didn't even realize I wanted to know the answer to. I can't honestly say that I loved it, but I am definitely glad that I read it. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Journal of Best Practices

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better HusbandThe Journal of Best Practices by David Finch
Source: I received a free copy of this book via a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads for an honest review.
My rating5 of 5 stars

I first heard about this book from an article in Oprah Magazine. To be honest, I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't really think I would go out and buy it. Borrow it from the library maybe, but not buy it. A short while later, I happened to notice it was being offered as a  and thought, why not enter?  Before I knew it, I got an email telling me I was one of the winners and would be receiving a free copy!

After finishing a most disappointing novel, I picked up this memoir and once I started it, I could not put it down. I literally flew through this book. Before I get started on the content of the book, I need to say that David Finch is an amazingly talented writer. His work is easy and enjoyable to read and he suffused the entire thing with a wonderful sense of humor. (Also with a *bit* of choice language - that type of thing does not phase me, but if it bothers you, you have been forewarned.)

Before reading this book, I had a general understanding about what Asperger's Syndrome is, but I had never heard a first-hand account of what life is like for a person with the disorder.  In his memoir, David shares not only how his life in general has been affected by Asperger's, but mainly focuses on how it has affected his marriage.

Earlier in life, David and his wife Kristen started off as best friends and their relationship progressed from there. Once they got married and moved in together, things started to get much more difficult for them.  Realizing they were not happy with the way things were between them and with David only recently diagnosed, he sets out to improve himself and his marriage. He comes to realize he has to learn and practice certain skills that come naturally to "neuro-typicals."  In order to do this, he starts his "Journal of Best Practices," a collection of rules and hard-won insights he uses as a tool to help him improve some of his more difficult behaviors.

I don't mean to diminish in any way the difficulties David faces in his everyday life; however, I could not help but think on occasion, "typical man!" So many of the things David is working on are things most men could use some improvement on. What wife doesn't want her husband to be a better listener? To let her vent her frustrations without jumping in with a logical solution to the problem? To take initiative around the house with chores, etc? David certainly has many more obstacles in his way and other additional issues he must face, but many of the problems specific to his marriage are not so different from the problems any other couple might face.

After finishing this book, what I was struck by the most and what will stay with me for a long time to come, is the love this man and his wife share. He may have trouble showing it and they may face many more challenges than the average couple, but the love they have for each other is so real and so touching. David is often extremely hard on himself and wishes he could be more "perfect" for Kristen because that is what he believes she deserves. But let me tell you, if love were "graded" for effort and a desire for one's partner to be happy, David would get an A++

Bottom line? Read this book. Now. I challenge you to not be moved and touched by it. Read any of the passages where David relays stories of the crazy things his kids have done or said and I challenge you not to dissolve into hysterics. Any other book David may write in the future will definitely make it onto my To-Buy List. On release day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gillespie and I

Gillespie and I by Jane  Harris
Source: free from a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway for my honest review
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It pains me to give this book such a low rating, especially since I was so looking forward to reading it and most grateful for having won a free copy from
GoodReads’s First Reads program.

I must say that I simply did not care for this book. I felt compelled to finish it and wanted to see how it ended, but I found myself really not caring about the story and certainly without any affection for the main character, Harriet Baxter. She seems nice enough, but is written as so “proper” that I felt very distant from her as a reader, even though the book is written from her point of view.

To summarize without giving too much away, Harriet befriends the Gillespie family while visiting Glasgow in the late 1800’s. She decides to stay in the city longer and a great tragedy occurs that ends with Harriet on trial -- a trial that seems to go on for ages with one outlandish accusation after another.

Before the trial, we get to know a bit about Harriet. She is English, unmarried and of independent financial means. She appears to be the type of person who “kills with kindness.” She is just overbearingly helpful and oblivious to the fact that her actions make others uncomfortable at times. She comes across as desperate for friendship and approval. In the chapters where she is an older woman, I found her character to be obsessive, strange and quite honestly, distasteful.

The writing was too descriptive at times and I found the book in general to be very tedious. It took me 20 days to finish it and that is extremely unusual for me.  I felt the same issues and situations were revisited over and over again and not much interesting happened (and certainly nothing unexpected).

Perhaps I missed it, but the overwhelming thought in my mind when I finished this book was, “what was the point of that?”  I have yet to come up with a decent answer to that question.

I have heard nothing but wonderful reviews of Ms. Harris’ first book, The Observations and I will certainly give that title a chance, but I sincerely hope it is better than this one.