"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

This latest book from Alice Hoffman is so dramatically different from anything else I have ever read I enjoyed it for that aspect alone. The story is a compilation of multiple mysteries, masterfully woven together creating a dramatic tale that unravels a little bit at a time throughout the book.

I found a few things disappointing about this novel. The pace is slower than I prefer. For every revealed plot twist there is a lengthy period during which the characters contemplate their circumstances, both past and present. Additionally, while I found the mysterious elements of the novel fascinating and gripping, the love story that develops between the main characters is too contrived to be convincing. The Museum of Extraordinary Things, though incredibly creative and astoundingly original in creation and presentation, ended up being a solidly average read for me.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144053-the-museum-of-extraordinary-things?ac=1.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I work at a county library and was tidying up the "new releases" shelf when I stopped for a moment to flip through the pages of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Thankfully I didn't have any patrons in my section of the library at that time because I was compelled to immediately sit there on the floor, in front of the shelving unit housing authors whose names begin with the letter 'z', and devour the first 40 pages. As soon as I returned home I downloaded it to my Kindle and picked up where I had left off on the library floor. I finished it that same night (a feat less impressive than you may initially think since the book is only a little over 200 pages and an easy read).

I love this book. I marked quote after quote, making the hi-lighting feature on my Kindle redundant by hi-lighting the majority of the text. I laughed a lot, cried a little, and being a book-lover and librarian, I could personally relate to the experiences of the patrons and employees of Island Books. My favorite parts, out of the many "favorites" I could list, were A.J.'s short story reviews/reports written addressed to Maya throughout the novel. The wisdom and heart of A.J.'s character comes through most poignantly in these short sections and I loved every single one of them.

There was only one element to the tale that kept me from committing to a 5-star review... A.J. went from grieving widower to a man in love with very little explanation provided to the reader. An appropriate amount of time passes, as far as that goes,  but I would have liked to travel that road with him a little bit rather than skipping right to it. Overall a rewarding reading experience that I would recommend to anyone looking for a feel-good book.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18293427-the-storied-life-of-a-j-fikry?from_search=true.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In Time by Alexandra Bracken

Short stories aren't typically a format I enjoy but I loved this one. I loved finding out what was happening to Zu, one of the characters I fell in love with in the first book, during the short time between the first and second novels. I also appreciated the alternative point of view. Getting a look into the thoughts and feelings of an adult citizen shed light on some of the varied and difficult dynamics faced by citizens of all ages. The raw emotions of the characters hooked me again and I was sucked right back into the continuing adventure of The Darkest Minds series. The only fault I could find within the covers of In Time is the length. I wanted more! :0)  I'm taking a short break before I dive into the second novel, only because I'm not ready for it to be over yet.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18052136-in-time?from_search=true.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

It's been a good long while since I finished a book in two days or less but this young adult science fiction had me hooked. And rather than winding down as I neared the end, it just kept getting better.

I found the beginning a little confusing. Initially it's difficult to work out who can do what and why that is a problem for the ruling powers. It seemed to take an overlong time to get to the heart of that particular mystery but once I did, I couldn't put it down. My affinity for the main character, Ruby, increased as the tale progressed. She initially didn't spark any particular fondness in me but as she moves through the trials presented to her I fell in love with her ever-increasing strength of character. Conversely, her friends Liam, Zu, and Chubs were love at first meeting. They're an easy group to fall for, thriving through use of their diverse strengths and talents against a terrifying group of enemies who seem to be everywhere all the time.

Love and friendship are the ties that bind this motley crew together as they strive to save themselves and the children still trapped in the nightmare they're running from. Before I closed the cover on this one, I already downloaded the follow-up short story and book number two. I'm relieved I don't have to say goodbye to this cast of characters just yet...

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10576365-the-darkest-minds?from_search=true.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey

Definitely not for me. I was so distracted by the graphic violence, filthy language, and derogatory sex I couldn't even speak to the quality of the plot line. I struggled from beginning to end on this one and at the close, I wish I hadn't invested the time. There's an audience for everything; I'm just not the correct audience for this one. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114185-a-wanted-woman?from_search=true.

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

A long-time fan of Michael Connelly's, I have come to expect, and accept, the necessity of an installment that bridges the gap from one part of a character's life to a new phase and direction for that character. The Fifth Witness serves just such a purpose. Mickey Haller takes on a difficult client when his heart is on the precipice of being fully ready for a dramatic career change. The courtroom drama doesn't disappoint but moves a little slower than the pace I've come to expect from Connelly. Despite that, everything comes together in the end for a dramatic close and the promise of even better things to come. I'm looking forward to starting the next one and discovering what is in store for defense darling (or not), Mickey Haller.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9681098-the-fifth-witness?ac=1.