Thursday, June 9, 2011

House Rules by Jodi Picoult - Book Review

House RulesHouse Rules by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Jacob Hunt has a passion for forensic science. Everyday at 4:30pm, he watches his favorite tv show, "Crime Busters", and takes detailed notes of each episode, and the case it covers. Jacob eats only yellow foods on Mondays, and will wear only the color blue on Fridays. He does not like for his routine to be disturbed. Jacob has Asperger's syndrome.

Jacob's mother, Emma, and 15-year-old brother, Theo, are accustomed to his unusual behavior. Emma has spent 15 years helping Jacob to connect with others.

Trouble begins when Jacob is linked to a homicide crime scene. Traits that are typical for someone with Aspergers syndrome, such as failure to make eye-contact, only further incriminate Jacob. His interest in forensic science is also suspicious. But is he guilty?

"House Rules", though fictional, was a fascinating and enlightening account of living with Aspergers. Told from the point of view of 5 characters, including Jacob himself, the reader finds out how this disorder can affect every member of a family.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

True Grit by Charles Portis - Book Review

True GritTrue Grit by Charles Portis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl who is determined to avenge her father's murder. She sets out to find Tom Chaney, the man who murdered her unarmed father and fled with all of his possessions. She hires Rooster Cogburn, a federal marshall known for his "true grit", to help find him and bring him to justice. So begins a journey that proves Rooster is not the only one who has grit - Mattie seems to have quite a bit of it herself.

I wasn't as fond of this book as I hoped I would be, given all the hype about the movie. But it was decent story and a nice, easy read. I expected more excitement, and there were parts where things got a bit hairy, but it was mostly predictable. It read like a typical western, which is not exactly my favorite genre, but it was a nice change from what I usually read.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - Book Review

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book grabbed my attention from the very beginning. While it started out a bit confusing, I caught on to the format rather quickly. It tells the story of Henry, a time traveler, and Clare, the love of his life. Clare first meets Henry when she is only 6 years old, but Henry does not meet Clare until she is 20 and he is 28. I know, confusing, right? The story weaves between 1963 and 2008, with Henry occasionally jumping from the past to the future and back. It's a love story with a sci-fi twist.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson - Book Review

The Selected Works of T. S. SpivetThe Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought I would never finish this book. It took me nearly 6 months to read it, and it felt like even longer than that. It was the book cover that initially caught my attention. I found it for $1 in the bargain bin at Borders (say that 3 times fast), and it looked very unique and interesting.

The plot was intriguing: A 12-year-old boy, who happens to be a child prodigy in the area of cartography, hitchhikes his way across the country to accept the prestigious Baird Award at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. The committee giving him the award is unaware that he is only 12 years old, and have based their decision solely on his work in cartography. T.S.'s parents are unaware that he is leaving. And so, Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet finds himself on an adventure of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, I was mostly disappointed with the book. The story was all over the place and the writing was unnecessarily verbose. The sidebar illustrations, while unique and imaginative, did not add much to the story and ended up being nothing more than a distraction. The author completely changed direction in the middle of the book, and began telling a story of T.S.'s great-great-grandmother. The story ended abruptly without resolution, and went back to T.S's adventure. Overall, I was not impressed.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Thunderstruck by Eric Larson - Book Review

ThunderstruckThunderstruck by Erik Larson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thunderstruck tells the story of two men: Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless telegraphy, and Hawley Harvey Crippen, the man convicted of Britain's second most famous murder. Larson weaves back and forth between the two stories, ending with Crippen's capture on a ship named the Montrose with the help of Marconi's wireless telegraphy.

I was quite excited about reading "Thunderstruck", as I was completely fascinated and enthralled with Larson's "The Devil in the White City". However, the magic that I found in "The Devil..." was missing in "Thunderstruck". While I loved the parts about Dr. Crippen, I found myself bored with Marconi's story, and even irritated when the author switched back to him. This book contains a fantastic historical account of both men, but it was not as gripping as I had hoped.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

One Day by David Nicholls - Book Review

One DayOne Day by David Nicholls

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't read much chick lit anymore, so I thought this would be a nice departure from the heavier things I've been reading lately. The book was an easy, quick read and it had a unique format which I enjoyed. But I can't say the same about the content or the characters.

One of the main characters, Emma, was mostly likable in that she was smart, responsible, and caring. But what frustrated me about her was that she seemed to spend more time feeling bad about her circumstances than she did changing them. The other main character, Dexter, was nothing more than a selfish, egotistical a-hole who took his friendship with Emma for granted.

I can't say much more about my opinion of the book without giving away some of what happens, but I'll just say that I wasn't sure until the end whether I was going to like it or not. And it turned out that I was disappointed.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule - Book Review

The Suicide ShopThe Suicide Shop by Jean Teule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Without a doubt, this is the weirdest book I have ever read. The Tuvache family reminded me very much of the Addams Family, or even the family who parodied them, the Munsters. Their idea of "normal" is very different from most. They live in a dark world, many years in the future, when it rains sulphuric acid and suicide is not only common, but accepted. The Tuvache family runs The Suicide Shop, where they sell paraphanalia to patrons who want to end their lives. They sell anything from poisons to nooses. Lucrece and Mishima have 3 children - Vincent, Marilyn and Alan. Vincent and Marilyn are "normal", in that they never smile, are always depressed, and have a very dark outlook on life. It is their youngest son, Alan, who worries them with his smiles, laughter, singing and happiness. His mother worries: Is he contagious?

The Suicide Shop is the most unique story I've ever read. Though the content sounds disturbing, the book was surprisingly funny and enjoyable to read.

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