One Plus One | by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2014, 384 pages)

We are definitely Jojo Moyes fans here at the SCC library. One Plus One is her latest title and it didn’t disappoint. Jess has effectively been raising her two kids alone for the past few years. Even when their father was around he wasn’t exactly helping out the situation. Jess does what she can to put a positive spin on things and ensure that her family is taken care of. When she learns that her daughter, Tanzie, has been offered a 90% scholarship to one of the top private schools thanks to her math abilities she wants to do what she can to allow Tanzie to go. A math Olympiad is going on in Scotland and as the family tries to get there it seems like the world is conspiring against them. Until Ed shows up and offers to help them out.

Ed is a wealthy IT man who has been wrapped up in his own issues lately. When he sees Jess and her kids on the side of the road he can’t really say what compels him to offer his help but he’s somewhat startled when he realizes Jess is actually one of the house cleaners for his vacation house. The two managed to start things off on the wrong foot and they seem to have nothing in common but here they are, stuck together on a journey that neither of them could have imagined setting out on.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. The description doesn’t necessarily do the best job “selling” the story, but once you start reading Moyes starts working her magic. There were probably three or four times that I teared up while reading this book. It’s a quick read with an engaging storyline. I definitely recommend One Plus One and other Moyes titles.

Landline | by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin’s Press, 2014, 310 pages)

Best known for her young adult fiction, Landline is a novel that reaches out to her adult audience (an audience that loves her YA work anyway). Georgie McCool (yes, that’s her real name) is a tv writer who works with her incredibly attractive best friend from college, Seth. Georgie has been married for more than a decade and her husband Neal stays home with their two young daughters. Ever since they got together in college Neal has known that Georgie can’t help but put her work first. However, when work gets in the way of her going with her family to visit her in-laws in Omaha for Christmas Neal decides he’s had enough and heads off with the kids alone.

Georgie is sure things will be fine but Neal won’t take her calls and her family seems to think their marriage is over. As she struggles to get her work done and mentally work through how to salvage her marriage she uncovers a secret way to communicate with the past. She’s freaked out at the find, but at the same time this seems to be a way to right some of the wrongs in her marriage. Will this bring Georgie and Neal back together, or will it show her they would have been better off apart from the beginning?

Rowell is able to portray love in a way that completely envelopes the reader. She does such an amazing job capturing those feelings and making you reflect on your own experiences. I enjoyed this book, but it took me a little bit to really get into it. The fantasy element Rowell places in the story works, but it’s not a path I want to see her take with future titles.

If you’re looking for a quick read that sucks you in and portrays romance in a way that speaks to you I’d recommend picking up any of Rowell’s titles.

Every Boy’s Got One | by Meg Cabot

Every Boy's Got One

Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot
(Pan Macmillan, 2005, 328 pages)

I hadn’t read any Meg Cabot before, and when I saw this title in my ebook browsing, I thought I would give it a try. Jane Harris is the friend of Holly who is eloping with her boyfriend, Mark, to Italy. The book begins as a travel journal that Jane intends to keep for them so they can remember their elopement. The rest of story is told as conversations in emails, handwritten notes, texts, and some private journal entries.

Mark’s best friend is Cal—he and Holly are acting as witnesses to the wedding. There is an immediate disdain between Cal and Jane at the airport, which further progresses as they fly across the Atlantic and get settled in at their villa in Italy. Jane is fully supportive of this elopement as she believes Holly and Mark are perfect for each other, while Cal doesn’t think so because he has been burned by love before. Jane is determined to make sure Cal doesn’t ruin anything for Holly and Mark’s special day as their families have been less than supportive.

I found this book to be a fun and humorous read, especially the arguing between Cal and Jane. I liked it so much that I am planning to read the rest of the “The Boy” series. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys chick lit.

The Magician’s Elephant | by Kate DiCamillo

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
(Candlewick Press, 2009, 201 pages)

I read this one to my daughter. We both enjoyed it. Peter, an orphan, goes to see a fortuneteller. She tells him that his sister, whom he was told had died, is alive, and that in order to find her he must “follow the elephant.” The instruction sounds absurd until a magician’s act goes wrong and he conjures an elephant which comes crashing through the ceiling of the Baltese Opera House. The consequences of this bizarre and amazing event are both tragic and hopeful as Peter and the rest of the town of Baltese struggle to understand the significance of this remarkable happening.

The book has a haunting, dream-like quality to it. It reads very much like fairytale. That said, there is also humor sprinkled throughout – which is appropriate, given the absurdity of the premise. I had never read anything by Kate DiCamillo before, but I think I will probably read more of her work in the future.

Why I Write | by George Orwell

Why I Write

Why I Write by George Orwell
(Penguin Books, 2005, 120 pages)

This little book consists of four of George Orwell’s most popular essays. They offer his insight on why to write, how to write, and what subjects are worth writing about. In the first essay, “Why I Write,” Orwell offers what he thinks are the “four great motives for writing”: (1) sheer egoism (2) aesthetic enthusiasm (3) historical impulse (4) political purpose. All of these motives are evident in Orwell’s work. The audacity with which he attacks the English political establishment of his day could only be undertaken by someone with a healthy ego. He combines concerns for the aesthetic and the political in “Politics and the English Language,” when he shows how imprecise language can be used for nefarious political purposes. In “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius,” as he discusses the need for a national democratic socialism to emerge out of the trials of the coming Second World War (the essay begins with the unforgettable line “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me” [11]), Orwell displays a keen sense of the history of the English people.

The clarity and wit of Orwell’s essays make them a pleasure to read. They display the truth of one of his own aphorisms: “Good prose is like a window pane” (10). If you have read and enjoyed Nineteen Eighty-Four or Animal Farm, this collection will give you an even greater appreciation for the political purpose behind those stories. Whether reading his novels or his essays, you would be hard pressed to find a better writer than Orwell for clarity of thought and fervency of purpose.

The Reunion of the Church | by Lesslie Newbigin

The Reunion of the Church

The Reunion of the Church: A Defense of the South Indian Scheme by Lesslie Newbigin
(Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011, 190 pages)

This is a reprint of a book that was originally published in 1948 and updated in 1960. It gives a fascinating picture of the structure of reunion between Presbyterians, Methodists, and Anglicans in India during the ecumenical heyday of the mid-twentieth century. Lesslie Newbigin was a major figure in the ecumenical movement, and this book articulates important features of his vision of the Church and its unity.

Newbigin was a founding bishop in the Church of South India, and the formation of this communion in 1947 represented the hopes that church leaders across many denominations line had for a greater visible unity. It also stirred up significant controversy, prompting Newbigin to make explicit the rationale behind the union in an effort both to defend the formation of the communion and to provide a helpful example to other churches seeking greater unity. His vision of the nature and mission of the Church is shaped by his experience as a missionary in India. For Newbigin, the unity of the Church is not a matter of convenience or expediency, but rather, it is an issue of the legitimacy of the Church’s witness to non-Western cultures.

The 1960 introduction in this edition shows how Newbigin’s thought continued to develop on these issues. Not only is this book an interesting and practical snapshot of one of the ecumenical movement’s most important figures, but it also carries important principles for those working towards unity among various churches today.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories | by B.J. Novak

One More Thing

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
(Knopf, 2014, 276 pages)

One More Thing had been on my radar since I heard that B.J. Novak would be publishing a collection of short stories. I waited to check out the audiobook version of the title since it was narrated by the author and a few of his celebrity friends (like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, and Rainn Wilson). As I was listening to the stories I appreciated them but felt they fell a little flat for the most part. There were a number of them that brought a chuckle out of me, but overall I wasn’t that impressed. Novak is clearly a good and clever writer, but I think there was a lot of build-up given his celebrity . I think this collection is definitely suited for the generation of today – there are pop culture references that probably won’t have a very long shelf-life but that I was certainly able to appreciate.

If you’re a Novak fan or a fan of “The Office” I still think you should pick this up. There’s no question Novak is a talented writer AND actor, but I don’t necessarily see a second book in his future. At least, not of the fiction variety. For another perspective of the book you can check out Sadie’s review!