Thursday, September 23, 2010

This is Where I Leave You {Book Club Pick}

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So I had heard about This is Where I Leave You from quite a few reliable sources and I had heard about Jonathan Tropper in general from quite a few reliable sources so of course Tropper and this book were on my ever growing TBR list.  However, I knew that if I wasn't pushed to read this book I probably never would because even though it was on my TBR list I have so many other books that looked much more appealing to me!  So when my book club decided that this would be the September book I was excited!!!  Just what I needed, a little push in the direction of Tropper and now I am hooked!!!  One of my earlier mentioned "Reliable Sources" is a fellow book blogger Greg from The New Dork Review.  Greg is a big Tropper fan and he said in one of his reviews on Tropper that he is the mans equivalent of Chick Lit.  Well, I couldn't agree with you more Greg.  This is 100% Dude Lit for sure.  Tropper writes an easy to read witty story full of family angst, self image, sex, and betrayal (throw in some Louboutins, and a Dolce and Gabbana handbag and you have full fledged Chick Lit).  Now don't think for a moment comparing this book to Chick Lit makes this book fluff.  It isn't, it is a touching look in to a dysfunctional family and realizing that it really isn't that dysfunctional.  Tropper also builds very 3 dimensional characters, and while the book is easy to read it isn't mindless reading. 

In This is Where I Leave You you meet Judd Foxman at the lowest point in his life.  His dearly loved wife just cheated on him with his Alpha male boss (think Howard Stern).  His Dad passed away after a fight with stomach cancer.  And to top it all off his Mother has called to tell her children that their fathers dying wish was to have the whole non-religious family sit Shiva.  The last thing Judd wants to do is spend 7 days locked in his childhood home with his body image obsessed older sister Wendy (and her Wall Street husband and 3 loud obnoxious kids), his self pitting older brother Paul, who holds Judd accountable for the end of his baseball career (along with his wife Alice who is desperate for a child), his younger brother Phillip who is a play boy with out direction in his life (and his 2 times older girlfriend/therapist), not to mentioned his sexually charged Therapist Mother who may or may not have become a lesbian.  On top of this week from hell his soon-to-be ex-wife shows up to tell Judd she is pregnant.  I mean come on, this book is jam packed with crazy!!!  It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and it is worth every page!!!  I promise you will LOL at least once if not continuously though this whole story!!

I don't know if I would recommend this to book clubs.  It is full of shocking and graphic sexual scenes and where that doesn't ever bother me (or my book club) at all I could see some people getting a little up in arms over the whole thing.  However, I would recommend this book to someone that wants to read something different for a change.  I would recommend it to just about any guy, because I would bet most would love it and tell you that this book pegs the male point of view.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: So this book has been snatched up for a movie in 2011.  I think that the movie will be nothing short of hilarious.  I will be purchasing $10 tickets and $50 popcorn to check this one out for sure.

RATING: 4 stars

3 More reviews on this book:

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
{Borrowed from a friend}
ISBN 0452296366
Pages 352

If you liked This is Where I Leave You then try: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Monday, September 20, 2010


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Oh my.  This one is a long time coming for sure.  After my obsession with Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins last year I just could not wait for Mockingjay.  So on the day it came out I rushed out before work and bought it (even though I couldn't read a word of it until after work).  And guess what?  I was NOT disappointed people!!  I may be one of the rare readers that didn't have a problem with this book at all!  I thought that every thing that happened needed to happen.  Every death, every match made, every battle, every thing.  I was shocked in the appropriate places, outraged in the correct spots, and at the edge of my seat during the right parts.  Now saying all that; Mockingjay was not my favorite book of the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I liked them in the order they were released for sure.  I felt like Hunger Games even though it was politically charged it was pure adventure and action.  Catching Fire again was full of adventure and action but it dealt with even heavier issues than the first book.  Now with Mockingjay it is complete and total political propaganda and the characters seem a little jaded and lost (but that is what makes the book feel so real), if you were going though what these young people were going though you would not be yourself anymore either.  Don't get me wrong, there is enough action and adventure in Mockingjay to go around, it is just deeper and a little more mature than the other two books.

I am going to write this synopsis with out any spoilers to Mockingjay but be warned that there is going to have to be some spoilers from the first two installments (don't say I didn't warn you, and if you haven't read any of the trilogy I would recommend you turn back now and go get the books).  Anyway, in Mockingjay you are brought back to Panem after Katniss has been rescued from her second time in the arena by the survivors of district 13.  She is kind of an empty shell of the Katniss we know but who can blame her.  Peeta has been taken by the Capitol, and her District has been blown to smithereens and she is just totally lost and doesn't know who to trust.  The Districts are in full scale rebellion now, and the Capitol is losing it's foot hold of power.  District 13 know that the rebellion needs a leader or "mascot" and of course Katniss is the obvious choice.  And because Katniss now has a death wish and just doesn't care anymore she decides to become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion.  Something I thought was interesting was that Collins opted to not tie everything up in a pretty little bow.  She left a few strands and she left some messy strands, but in a situation like this one you can't have everything hunky dory on the end.

I have read a lot of reviews about Mockingjay and most of them have something negative to say about Katniss's character in this book.  She isn't the go getter she was in the first two books, but after the beat down she has received in the first two stories you can't really blame her, after all she is only 17 years old, and has already spent 2 years fighting for her life, and the 5 years before keeping her family alive.  When I read books like Twilight and Hunger Games I have to remind myself that the characters are teenagers, so their fickleness and their feelings, and their drama, and selfcenteredness come with the hormonal territory.  When you think of it like that you start to like the characters a little  more.

I am sad to see this series come to an end but I am glad that Collins didn't drag it out to the point of annoyingness to make a few more dollars.  She kept it to the point and a perfect length in my opinion.  I am anxious to see what the movie will be like next  year and that they cast it correctly.  I'm up for the job if Lionsgate wants me!!

Rating: 5 Stars

3 More reviews:
Books i Done Read
Lovely Little Self
Forever Young

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
{Purchased at Target}
ISBN 0439023513
Pages 400

If you liked Mockingjay then you need to read: Tomorrow when the War Began by John Marsden

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Plague

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Well with a title like The Plague you know that the book is gonna have a lot to do with pain and pestilence, and mortality.  But would you think it would have to also do with compassion, community, and survival?  Well this book had it all and it was really rather unexpectantly interesting!  Now I have to admit that if I had read this book I would have put it down almost immediately so I am glad I picked it up at the library as an audio book otherwise I would have never experienced this little gem.  The Plague by Albert Camus was published in 1947 and originally it was written in French but was then later translated to English and I feel there was nothing really lost in translation, because the book was quite wonderful and beautifully written.  The novel is believed to be loosely based on a Cholera Outbreak that killed a large percentage of the Algerian city Oran in 1849 following the French colonization (information from Wikipedia).

Now that the little history lesson is over I'll clue you in to what the book is about.  Wait... I bet you can guess...  It's about the bubonic plague (shocking I know).  Anyway, the story takes place in the town of Oran in the 1940s.  First the rats start surfacing.  They are everywhere, in the gutters, in the alleys, in peoples homes, in the restaurants, and they aren't just out and swarming they are out and dying sad little rat deaths.  The people of Oran can't make heads nor tails of this little rat infestation but they are concerned as the Health Department keeps tallying up the little rat deaths and publishing how many they picked up in their morning rat scoop.  The numbers are climbing up to the tens of thousands and then as quickly as they made their appearance they are gone.  Then the first wave of fever, sweats, and buboes start to pop up in the town.  People are dying of some strange horrific death and then the Health Department starts tallying up those deaths too and they are reaching almost as high as the rat deaths.  Doctors are helpless as they watch the town fall to the Bubonic Plague that soon turns into the Mnemonic Plague.  Meanwhile, the town very early on becomes quarantined from the rest of the country so there is the longing for family members that are now separated from their loved ones.  This book isn't just about the plague and the death and destruction of Oran but about the relationships built out of this disaster, and how a community comes together to pick up the pieces of this horrible catastrophe.

I would recommend this book to anyone that really enjoys literature, not just a good read but real honest to goodness literature.  The writing in the book is truly a treat.  Book clubs might want to give this one a try as well.  There would be lots to discuss and I am sure the discussion would get lively.  Or if you just are interested in the Bubonic Plague (like I am) this is a good one to add on your TBR pile for sure.

RATING: 4 stars

1 more reviews on The Plague (I couldn't find any more than this)
Tony's Book World

The Plague by Albert Camus
(Library Audio Book)
ISBN 9780679720218
9 Discs {8 Hours 30 Minutes}

If you liked The Plague then read: The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks