Book Review – This is Where I Leave You

Book: This is Where I Leave You

Author: Jonathan Young

I am going to be real with you: I did NOT care for this book. With that in mind, this post will be short and not-so-sweet.

This book was needlessly graphic, unfunny, and left me uncaring. Why is it listed as humor? I laughed maybe once during this book.

It took me forever (for me, anyway) to get through this book. Young’s writing was unexpectedly graphic in places and felt contrived and gratuitous. I suppose they were there (in the beginning) to help you empathize with the main character, but I found I did not care. I could not get on board with this story of a family sitting Shiva for their patriarch (who was the father of the main character). Don’t get me wrong: my siblings and I are all adults (well…the youngest isn’t yet 21. Does 20 count as an actual adult?) and driving their big sister crazy feels to me like it’s still a full-time job for them. At a high level, from the perspective of the sibling relationships, I related. But the level of crazy of and between the siblings and the mother was…scary.

I even watched the movie to see if it was any better, but it wasn’t really. This surprised me because it had some funny people in it (Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, etc.). The best part was probably when the sister punched a guy in defense of her brother. As a big sister, I can tell you that if you mess with my brothers I will turn from sweet, nice woman into full momma bear mode in seconds. Other than that one part, the movie was as forgettable as the book.

Not recommending this book to you is the best thing I could possibly do. Don’t read this book. If you need a recommendation, let me know. I can recommend a humorous book much better than this one. Mindy Kaling’s writing and humor are much more on my level and I would recommend her books over This is Where I Leave You any day.

If you disliked this book like me, try:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Bossypants

Yes Please

Scrappy Little Nobody

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

 

Book Review – Fangirl

Book: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

My best friend wrote fanfic for the Harry Potter series when we were in high school. She is a serious Potthead; I am a serious Potthead. (PS. We are planning a best friend’s trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for October of this year and are super extra excited about it!) I’m a nerd (obviously) and a bit of a loner (a shock, I know). A book about a shy girl who writes fanfic for a series about a teen-aged wizard seems like a natural pick for me.

It took me a few tries to get started, but once I did, the pages flew by. It wasn’t so much that I LOVED the book. It was more that I wanted to find out what happened between Cath and her sister. Between Cath and her dad. I wanted to know if she got over her crippling shyness (not that I don’t relate to that. I had similar fears of the dining hall when I was a freshman in college.). I wanted to know if she ever finished the story for her creative writing class. I wanted to know if she got the guy.

The story is about Cath. She and her twin sister, Wren, go off to college, and the story follows her freshman year. There were some interesting plot-points, but nothing that I didn’t see coming a mile away. It felt done. Like I’ve read it before. It felt like every other book about a girl going off to college. From the way everyone talked about this book and recommended it, I was expecting to be blown away. To be transported to Cath’s world and left gasping for more. But it wasn’t. It didn’t. And I can’t help feeling like I am missing the point.

The parts where she read her fanfic out loud to the guy (I can’t even remember his name such is the lack of impression this book made on me), did not interest me. At all. I never do this, but I skipped (gasp!) those pages so I could get back Cath’s story and finish the book.

The dynamic between Cath and her dad was interesting, but as done in YA or NA as I like my steak (no pink!). Hello, every other  series where one parent has left or is dead. I saw shades of Twilight in the relationship between Cath and her dad which had me wondering throughout the book if it would end more remarkably.

Quick sidebar: The twins’ mom named the girls Cather and Wren. Cather Wren. Catherine. Who in the world names their twin girls Cather and Wren?! That is plain awful. Cather. Like catheter. That is the image I had in my head the whole time I was reading Fangirl.

The ending of this book left me feeling confused and unsatisfied. Not unsatisfied in that “gotta have more!” way, but in the “what the heck?!” sort of way. It didn’t feel over to me. There were storylines that weren’t wrapped up. Things that didn’t come full circle. Am I missing something? Is there another book?

It was a cute story, but not something that I would read again. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to any of my friends as we are all in our late 20s and early 30s, but to teenagers or college ages, sure.

If you liked Fangirl, try:

Slammed

Paper Towns

Eleanor & Park

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Book Review – Between Shades of Gray

Book: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Septys

Sometimes when I watch the news and see stories happening to people on the other side of the country or the world, I feel so disassociated. I say to my TV, ‘Oh that is horrible!” and then the next story comes on the TV, I go about my day and the story floats out of my mind. Have you ever read a book like that? One whose words float right through you?

Have you ever read a book that affects you so deeply they turn your dreams into scenes from the book? One whose words float through the air and into your head so that you see the character’s world through their eyes and feel what they feel? That is what reading the book, “Between Shades of Gray” was like for me. Literally. After I closed this book and laid my head down to sleep, my dreams were pervaded with the goriest imagery from Lina’s story. This book made me feel as if I have failed as a human being.

Ugh. The scene with the lice was one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. I would not like to see a depiction of that, but I would love to see Lina’s drawings. Maybe a fan of the book has created a few I haven’t found yet.

One of the things I like best about this book is something I learned only by reading the author’s note at the back of the book. The amount of research Ruta Septys completed for her work is staggering. She went to Lithuania and talked to survivors about their experiences and drew from each of them. Events portrayed in the book happened. To real people. Less than 100 years ago. There are survivors of those atrocities still alive. Knowing that made this book all the more difficult to both put down and digest. Ruta was raw, brutal and gruesome in her imagery and narration of the things Lina and her family and friends endured.

As a lover of history and culture, I was riveted to this book. As a compassionate human being, I was horrified at what they suffered. We all learned about Hitler, the Nazis, and their concentration camps, the Jewish genocide, the ghettos and Anne Frank. There are hundreds of books written about them and I have read quite a few, but this is the first book I’ve read in regards to what Stalin did to the Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians and more.

The ending of this book (and I will NOT spoil it) left me feeling incomplete. The way Septys closed the book left me wanting more, to know more and read more the way all good books do.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The writing is lyrical and beautiful even when depicting some of the most disgusting and brutal imagery. The story is enthralling. The ending made me so intensely sad I cried for hours after closing the book. If you are not moved by Lina’s story, I have one question: are you a robot?

If you like this book, you might like:

Salt to the Sea

Number the Stars

The Diary of Anne Frank

Night

Schlindler’s List

PS. As my mother works for Barnes and Noble, I am strictly a BN girl. The links above will take you to BN, not Amazon, etc.

Welcome to my world

Have you ever read a book, are dying to talk to someone about it and can’t find anyone who has even heard of it? Welcome to my world. I am a bookworm, bookaholic, bibliophile and I read like a girl. What does that even mean?

Reading like a girl is whatever we (as girls) make it.

It is reading YA in your (eeek!) extra-late twenties and falling for your book boyfriends and shipping so hard for a couple you can’t even deal.

It is reading books you know will make you cry harder than you have in years because you know your life will ultimately be better for having read the story.

It is reading your guilty pleasure, trashy romance novel with scenes so hot steam rises from the pages.

It is reading books about women and men who are making a difference in this world. Movers, shakers, decision makers and thought leaders who are  leaving their mark upon this world and making life better for all humankind.

It is waiting not so patiently for a book to be released, devouring it in one night and then having to wait with breathless anticipation for the next book.

It is standing in line for your favorite author to sign your favorite book of theirs and fangirling over meeting them. (I…umm… have no experience with that one, I swear.)

It is recommending a book to a friend and bonding over your love of the story. Or your hatred of a villian. Or your affection a character. Or your infatuation of a friendship.

It is finding the series that speaks to you or the character you find yourself in, and coming back to her/him over and over again.

It is stumbling upon the book which leaves a mark on your soul. The one that leaves you changed and your world turned inside out.

It is discovering those books that inspire you to do something. To make a difference. To speak up. To stand up. To defend. To define. To leave a better legacy.

Reading like a girl is all of that and so much more.  It is whatever you make it. What does it mean to you?

 

-Girl