House Rules by Jodi Picoult
(Atria Books, 2010, 532 pages)
Jacob is an eighteen-year-old high school senior with Asperger’s syndrome which makes him think and act differently than most people around him. He is painfully honest, watches Crimebusters every day at 4:30, and only eats a certain color of food depending on what day it is. He doesn’t have a lot of friends because he has a hard time connecting with people. His closest friendship is with his social tutor, Jess, but when Jess is found dead, the evidence starts to point towards Jacob. Now Jacob’s younger brother Theo, mother, and lawyer are trying to fight for Jacob’s innocence without knowing the whole truth.
I’m always impressed with Picoult’s writing. Even though I know there is going to be an eventual trial and some kind of twist at the end, her books are always good. She always tackles a new subject and, in my opinion, really does her research. With Jacob’s Asperger’s, she sticks true to his quirks and portrays Jacob’s everyday life including how it affects the people around him in a realistic way. My only complaint is that I wish I knew more about what happened to them in the end but overall it was a good read.
NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
(Little, Brown and Company, 2012, 368 pages)
NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens. When a world-famous movie producer is poisoned on the first day of a Manhattan film festival called Hollywood on the Hudson, they are the first ones called. Then an actor is killed on the set of a film. And a Molotov cocktail explodes at a movie premiere.
Detective First Grade Zach Jordan and his new partner—and ex-girlfriend—Detective Kylie MacDonald are assigned to the case. The killer has every murder, every escape, planned down to the last detail—and he’s scripted an explosive finale that will bring New York and Hollywood to its knees.
Once again James Patterson delivers! This one was full of suspense and action. I hope it becomes a series. With an interestingly drawn bad guy coupled with dark humor enjoyed by cops, this book is a great read. Very fast paced with the story moving forward page to page. There were some great twists which kept it interesting. Well-written, the story draws you in and you can picture the characters. This book is for those who like action packed novels. NYPD Red had an ending that really kept me guessing. I’m thinking and hoping that there will be a second book that comes out. If you are a James Patterson fan or are just looking for a good suspense read with a little humor blended in, I would suggest you read it.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 2004, 870 pages)
I only have two audiobooks left! Rereading this series has been awesome. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is book 5 in the Harry Potter series. Harry has spent the summer on Privet Drive receiving very little information from anyone despite Voldemort having returned. He’s thrown off course when Dementors suddenly show up when he’s walking down an alley with his cousin Dudley. Luckily Harry is able to produce a patronus and scare them off. From here things get out of hand. Harry is called to the Ministry of Magic for performing magic outside of school. They threaten to expel him from Hogwarts, but fortunately Dumbledore provides enough evidence to keep Harry safe and enrolled in school. This doesn’t keep him from being the victim of slanderous articles in The Daily Prophet calling him an attention-seeking liar and questioning Dumbledore’s credibility. The Ministry of Magic refuses to acknowledge that Voldemort has returned and as such they are doing nothing to protect anyone against him. Fortunately the Order of the Phoenix has been brought back together (individuals Dumbledore knows he can trust who have stood against the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters before). They are protecting Harry and doing what they can to keep Voldemort from growing any stronger…
Delores Umbridge is one of the members from the Ministry of Magic who sat in on Harry’s hearing. She’s a short, toad-like, woman who tries to use feminine accessories and a soft-spoken nature to hide her darker side which calls for submission and a rigid adherence to rules. She comes to Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and her influence in the school slowly grows until she is acting as the school’s headmaster. Harry and the rest of the students suffer accordingly, but they find their own ways to get back at her.
This being their fifth year, Harry, Ron and Hermione are preparing to take their O.W.L’s. Given that Umbridge doesn’t believe in actually teaching them Defense Against the Dark Arts, Hermione came up with the idea that Harry teach a few interested Hogwarts students since he’s the one who has the most experience of anyone else at school. They call themselves Dumbledore’s Army and they practice different spells in the Room of Requirement. They must keep this quiet since Umbridge specifically banned any student groups not approved by her.
Voldemort’s return can’t be kept hidden for long. Harry, Ron, Hermione and the Order of the Phoenix are all aware that he’s searching for a weapon, something he didn’t have before. They just need to keep him from obtaining it. Unfortunately, Harry can’t distance himself since Voldemort is literally in his head. Their connection can’t be denied since Harry feels whenever Voldemort experiences extreme emotions – this turns out to be both a help and a danger…
Things were dark in book 5 and I know they’re going to get worse. I get so engrossed when I’m listening in my car that sometimes it’s hard to get out of it. Love HP! Ready for book 6!
Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
(Random House, 2012, 416 pages)
I was intrigued by Grace Coddington after watching the documentary “The September Issue,” which looked at what goes into creating the September issue for Vogue magazine. Grace was the standout star of the film because of her dedication, focus, and sass in the face of Anna Wintour. This memoir looks back at Grace’s life and recounts her journey from a small island life in England to the Creative Director of American Vogue. Photos of her life and sketches done by Grace are sprinkled throughout the text. It’s written in a very engaging way and despite being lengthy the type was on the larger side and it was easy to read. There’s no question she led (and continues to lead) an interesting life.
While reading this book I found myself Googling the models and photographers Grace mentions. I was definitely exposed to new people and gained a better appreciation for the work that goes into creating a fashion photograph. It even inspired my to resubscribe to the magazine! If you’re into fashion, or happened to see “The September Issue,” have an appreciation for the magazine industry, or simply love a good memoir, you’ll enjoy this book. There were little bits of celebrity gossip interspersed and it was interesting to see the role of fashion change through Grace’s life. Plus she loves cats so… I like her that much more now 🙂
The Diviners by Libba Bray
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012, 592 pages)
The Diviners is a young adult novel set in New York in the roaring twenties. It is the first book of a trilogy and this one focuses on Evie O’Niel, 17 years old and shipped off to her Uncle in New York because she got into some trouble back home in Ohio. Evie also has a recently discovered power and once in New York meets some other 17 year olds with strange secrets of their own. Her uncle is an expert in the folklore and the occult and is called in to help in a series of murders and Evie jumps in to help out. Naughty John is back, is the end of the world coming too? I enjoyed reading this book, but unlike some young adult novels, this one really felt like it was written for a 17 year old girl. Even so, I’m hooked and I will probably read the next two.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
(Harcourt, 2001, 401 pages)
Pi is a 16 year old boy who grows up in India, the son of a zoo keeper, with strong religious curiosity. His family decides to sell the zoo and the animals and head off to Canada by boat, on board are some of the animals they sold to American and Canadian zoos. The ship sinks and Pi finds himself in a struggle against nature to survive. If you’ve seen previews for the movie you probably know one big problem Pi faces! The first part of the book delves into Pi’s childhood and his exploration of three religions (Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam). The second part of the book is his story of survival on the lifeboat. In my opinion the author never connects these two parts together in a satisfactory way, but that doesn’t take away from the great story that Martel gives the readers. In the end I guess that is the point of the book, i.e. the link between religion and storytelling and faith. I enjoyed reading Life of Pi but was left unsatisfied at the end; I felt like I was promised more than what was delivered. This was probably not only the fault of the author but also from the reaction of previous readers like President Obama who stated it was “an elegant proof of God.” Um, not quite, but it was a good story.
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
(Bantam Books, 2012, 312 pages)
What do a nudie beach in Atlantic City, a Yeti, a man returned from the dead, a tiki, and a couple of car bombings have in common? They are all part of the plot of Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum novel, Notorious Nineteen. Just when you think that the adventures of fictional bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, cannot get any more outrageous, they do. In Notorious Nineteen, Stephanie must figure out how patients are disappearing from the hospital at night without being seen on the surveillance cameras or by the hospital staff. Stephanie also helps her friend, Ranger, investigate who is trying to kill him and one of his friends.
The Stephanie Plum novels are set in Trenton, NJ. Stephanie lives in an apartment with her hamster, Rex. Her parents and grandmother live nearby in the house where she grew up. The grandmother owns a large, old Buick which Stephanie borrows whenever her car is blown up or otherwise destroyed. The Buick appears in many of the Stephanie Plum novels.
I like some of the Stephanie Plum novels better than others. Notorious Nineteen is among my recent favorites. It grabs your attention from the beginning and does not let go. If you’re looking for a novel about a bounty hunter who is torn between two men and lives in constant chaos, Notorious Nineteen or any of the Stephanie Plum novels might be for you.
(HarperTeen, 2012, 304 pages)
This book was getting rave reviews on one of the YALSA listservs that I subscribe to so I was curious to check it out. Tiger Lily is a retelling of the Peter Pan story from the perspective of Tinkerbell who is introduced to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys through the experiences of 15-year-old Tiger Lily, a young girl who’s a member of a tribe known as the Sky People. Tiger Lily has always been seen as different by members of her tribe. She keeps to herself and she’s the adopted daughter of their medicine man, Tik Tok. All the members of the tribe know to stay away from certain parts of the forest where the Lost Boys have control, but Tiger Lily doesn’t always do what’s “expected” and an impromptu venture into the woods is how she meets, and becomes captivated by, Peter.
Their relationship grows to the point where Tiger Lily is doing whatever she can to steal time to spend with Peter and the Lost Boys. She doesn’t bother telling him she’s engaged to be married to a horrible man from her village. Nor is she aware that her actions are being watched by a pirate whose eye she caught. An older man who goes by Smee…
We are told at the beginning of the book that this is a love story that doesn’t end well. We know that Wendy will soon come into the picture because that is the story of Peter Pan. When she does arrive we see that Wendy is Tiger Lily’s complete opposite. Peter is torn between the two and it is because of jealousy and misunderstanding that Tiger Lily learns there are many things we do when we love and when we feel betrayed.
This was a captivating retelling of the traditional story and I really enjoyed it. I can certainly see the appeal for teens, but really anyone who loves Peter Pan will appreciate Tiger Lily. Despite knowing what happens I couldn’t help but wish the story would end differently. This was a great, and quick, read.
Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy by Phyllis Diller; with Richard Buskin
(J.P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2005, 266 pages)
I loved this book! It was fun to get a glimpse into the life of this famous comedian and actor. Phyllis Diller was born poor to elderly parents and lived most of her childhood in poverty in Ohio. After high school, she studied piano at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago for three years. She married at age 20 and had six children. Diller writes of her two failed marriages, struggles to put food on the table, and painstaking effort on starting her comedy career at the age of 40. She was a hardworking, brave, talented and funny woman.
The book is also filled with interesting stories of her writing TV and radio ads, appearing as a piano soloist with some 100 symphony orchestras, posing nude for Playboy magazine, getting old, and having plastic surgeries later in life. Also, I just have to mention that the Diller family lived in Webster Groves in St. Louis during the 1960’s. Diller performed at the St. Louis Muny and the Fox Theatre, too. A quick and witty read.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012, 592 pages)
In case anyone is reading/planning to read the Divergent series, you might want to skip my review if you haven’t read the first book yet. I don’t want to give anything away!
In the second book in the Divergent series, Tris and Four are trying to find the reason behind the Erudite’s attack on the Abnegation while dealing with their split Dauntless faction, building an army to stop the Erudite, and trying to stop the stimulations that are causing people to unknowingly kill each other. Tris is also trying to overcome her grief of both her parents dying to keep her safe and that she was forced to kill Will while he was under a stimulation. This forces a wedge between her relationship with Four and causes her to make some drastic choices that cause her life to be in danger.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy the second book as much as I did the first one. It was still a good read but there was just so much going on to keep up with. I found myself forgetting which character was which and why they were important to the story. I also ended up with the feeling that Roth was rushed to finish the second book to get out on shelves this year because some of the plot line just didn’t make sense. But the twist at the end made the read worth it and I’m looking forward to the third book, which unfortunately doesn’t come out till Fall 2013.