Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home by Julie Carson, with the editors of Remodelista
(Artisan, 2013, 400 pages)
My design kick continues… The Remodelista book developed out of the website, Remodelista.com. This is one of the top sites for those interested in redesigning their homes and seeking out inspiration (if you haven’t already you should also check out Houzz.com!). The book is set up in chunks. It starts with “Twelve Houses We Love” that looks at the interiors of 12 different houses from California to England. You see how people have made their space their own and get ideas and inspiration from this section. We then move into some short chapters on kitchens and bathrooms since those tend to be the spaces people remodel most frequently and it’s helpful to get some insight. The book then jumps into “Design Ideas” – here things that can be done in a DIY fashion are highlighted to show you that it’s possible to change your home without doing a complete remodel and bringing in experts. The book ends with “The Remodelista 100,” a breakdown of 100 objects that the Remodelista editors love with the reasons why and where the objects can be obtained. A thorough list of “Resources We Swear By” is provided at the end and is broken down by resource type (paint, flooring, etc.)
This was a good book but the design aesthetic isn’t quite me so I don’t think I got as much out of it as someone else would. There’s an emphasis on mixing high and low materials (think Ikea mixed with $8000 couches) and clean lines with very little clutter. I personally prefer a homier feel, but I was still able to find inspiration with this book (and I’ll admit that the aesthetic highlighted is a very calming one) and I wrote down a TON of resources and websites that I want to check out (hopefully they’re not out of my price range). Check out the Remodelista site and see if the design aesthetic matches with yours, if so you’ll enjoy this book 🙂 FYI, actress Julianne Moore is a huge fan of the site and she wrote the forward to the book.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012, 487 pages)
Divergent is the second book to be discussed in SCC’s Between the Covers book club I’d been eager to see what all the fuss was about. People have been talking about the Divergent series for a while since the Divergent film just came out in theaters (AND the book club is going to see it on Wednesday night!) and the trilogy was only just finished this past October with the release of the final book, Allegiant.
Set in a desolate future version of the United States Beatrice (Tris) is about to turn 16 and with this entry into adulthood she is going to choose the faction she will join. There are five factions you can be a part of: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Each faction places emphasis on certain characteristics that they feel are most important in keeping the peace and maintaining a stable society. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction were the focus is on selflessness. She has always struggled with this quality and is scared and curious to see what faction will be recommended for her. At 16 each individual is given an assessment to see which of the 5 factions will be the best fit. Beatrice, however, breaks the mold when it is revealed that she is “Divergent,” meaning she doesn’t neatly fit into any one category.
The choice Beatrice makes isn’t an easy one and she has to undergo a rigorous training process to ensure that she will truly be accepted into the faction she selected. Beatrice also has to keep her “Divergent” status a secret. No one will explain why, it is just made very clear that being Divergent is somehow a dangerous thing to be. As Beatrice grows and changes to fit into her new faction the tension that has slowly been building between a few of the factions starts to come to a head. Beatrice is going to have to fight to save her family and herself, but what she’s up against is formidable.
This book took me a little bit to get into, but once I did I sped through it. The book has a similar premise and vibe to The Hunger Games which I enjoyed more, but I see the appeal of Roth’s series. I’m curious to see where things go but I’m also a little nervous since I heard a lot of people were surprised at the direction Roth went in the final book. I can’t wait to see how the book comes across as a film!
You can also check out Sadie’s review of the book 🙂
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
(William Morrow, 2013, 368 pages)
Sylvie’s life has drastically changed since her parents were murdered in an old church after being sent there by their oldest daughter Rose. Her parents used to help haunted people and lost souls find peace and were considered strange and outcasts in town. Now Sylvie is still an outcast but Rose is her legal guardian who seems to have no interest in Sylvie’s well-being. Sylvie slowly starts to learn details of her parents work and the last night they were alive as she searches for the truth behind all the mysteries surrounding her parents.
This was a creepy read throughout as Searles jumped between chapters of Sylvie’s life before and after her parents were murdered. Sylvie had never questioned her parents before as she always wanted to please them and be their good daughter. Now that they’re gone, Sylvie wants one last chance to do right by her parents. Sylvie is a very smart girl so it wasn’t surprising when she put everything together even though that never seemed like her goal in the book. I have to say, though the book did drag a little at times, the scene were Sylvie finds out everything is really well written and makes up for the slowness of the read.
The Selection by Kiera Cass
(Harper Teen, 2012, 336 pages)
America Singer doesn’t even want to submit her name in the Selection to find Prince Maxon a wife. But with her struggling family and pressure from her mom and boyfriend, Aspen, she reluctantly agrees. Thinking there isn’t a chance for her to be selected, she is shocked when she is chosen. There are 35 girls competing to be the next princess but America is the only one who doesn’t want to win. America decides to befriend Prince Maxon during her time at the palace and it’s then that she starts to consider what the Selection process could bring her.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this when I read that it was about 35 girls fighting to be the next princess. But I really like the America character. She stayed true to herself while everyone else around her was trying to be something they weren’t. Although I didn’t agree with all of America’s decisions, she kept the book entertaining and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I wish Cass wasn’t dragging out the Selection over three books because I can see where it might start to get to be too much. But I’m hoping America’s character really starts to develop throughout the series.
The Returned by Jason Mott
(Harlequin MIRA, 2013, 352 pages)
Ever since the “returned” started appearing back from the dead in mysterious places trying to get home, Harold and Lucille Hargrave have wondered if their son Jacob would return. Jacob died on his eighth birthday more than thirty years ago. Even though they knew there was a possibility he could return, they were still shocked when Agent Bellamy showed up with their son. With the surge of the “returned” appearing all over the world, the government decided to start setting up camps to contain them, and one is in Arcadia where the Hargraves live. As more questions are left unanswered about the “returned,” tension builds quickly in the small town.
This was definitely an interesting concept for Mott to tackle. I’m sure everyone has wondered what it would be like if a loved one had never died, but what about if they returned years later looking the same as the day they died. It was interesting to see how different people reacted, especially people who have had someone return vs. people who are just spectators. Between chapters, Mott would add perspectives on various “returned.” This helped break up the chapters but with so many different perspectives, it made the characters hard to keep track of if they were actually mentioned in the story later on. “Resurrection,” the new show on ABC, is based off of this book. I’ve been watching the first few episodes and it seems like the framework is the same but many characters and plots have been changed or added. So I don’t think the book will spoil anything for you on the show, but time will tell on what direction the show takes.
You can also check out Julia’s review of The Returned.
Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection
by Gail Simone; with art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
(DC Comics, 2013, 144 pages)
After being shot in the spine by the Joker and living in a wheelchair for 3 years, Barbara Gordon is miraculously healed and becomes Batgirl once again. This time her nemesis is Mirror, who is out to kill those whose lives have been saved by miracles and who should never have lived. Barbara Gordon is on his list, but Batgirl is not about to go down without a fight. In the second half of this graphic novel, Batgirl goes up against Gretel, who can control minds to do her dirty work, including the mind of Gotham’s finest citizen, Bruce Wayne. Side stories include a new apartment and roommate for Barbara Gordon, the return of Gordon’s mother who had abandoned her years before, and the appearance of Batman and Nightwing (formerly Robin). Both the story and the art make this a worthwhile read. Batgirl’s thoughts are differentiated in the art from what she actually says, revealing her insecurities even as she destroys the bad guys. I’m looking forward to Batgirl Vols. 2-6 in this DC Comics series titled, The New 52.
Command Authority by Tom Clancy; with Mark Greaney
(Putnam Adult, 2013, 740 pages)
Command Authority by Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney is the last Jack Ryan novel written by Tom Clancy who died October 1, 2013. In Command Authority, Jack Ryan, Sr. is still the President of the United States. Jack Ryan, Jr. is working as an analyst at what should have been a nice, safe job for Castor and Boyle in London. As usual, things are not as they seem. Jack Ryan, Sr. is dealing with a Russian invasion into Crimea and the Ukraine. Jack Ryan, Jr. is researching ties between Scottish billionaire, Malcolm Galbraith, and the Russian Gazprom company. As it turns out, there is a connection between the Ukraine invasion and the case that Jack Ryan, Jr. is working. Command Authority shifts back and forth over thirty years to detail that connection.
I am a big Tom Clancy fan and am hoping that even with the death of Tom Clancy that the Jack Ryan novels will continue. Clancy has been working with Mark Greaney for the last three Jack Ryan novels. Jack Ryan has been part of American fiction since 1984 when The Hunt for Red October was first published. I feel like there are more Jack Ryan stories left to tell.
As with all the Jack Ryan novels, Command Authority has many characters and plot lines. Knowing this could be the last time that I read about Jack Ryan, I tried to slowly savor the novel. But that didn’t really happen. The story pulled me in and I just had to keep reading. If you are a Tom Clancy fan, you don’t want to miss this last novel.