Monday, April 8, 2013

The Great Gatsby


I read this book for the first time as a junior in high school. Reading books for a grade is always a different experience than reading them just because you want to. I decided to reread this book because of Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie coming out May 10, 2013 (See the trailor here). I love watching books that I've read be made into movies (and one starring Leo is an added plus.) As I started seeing previews, I realized I really didn't remember what the old classic was about. I remembered Gatsby's parties, a yellow/cream car, and a lady named Daisy; but to be honest that was about it. I didn't want to go into the movie and have to be reminded of the story thought the movie... because let's face it, we know that Hollywood is going to mess it up somewhere.

I read the book over spring break.Just as before I was blown away by the story. Fitzgerald has an ability to use only 4-6 sentences to describe what some others take up pages for. I feel that if this book would have been written today it would not have gotten as much hype, though. Still a great book. I loved it just as much the second time, if not more.

I now have over 3000 hits on my blog!! While I'm happy to know this, I don't have enough followers. If you read my blog, please follow me! I you read it and like what I've written, please make comments at the bottom. I'm not sure if I am going to keep it going if no one is reading it! After the next few blog posts, I may strictly post my reads and reviews of books on

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Dinner


This book takes place over the course of one meal; a dinner between two brothers and their wives. The narrator, Paul Lohman, tells the story from his dark point of view. His brother, Serge Lohman, asks his brother Paul and his wife Claire to join them for dinner to discuss something their 15 year old sons had done; a horrific crime that they have committed.

Initially, Paul appears so normal. He is a loving father and doting husband. He describes his family with affection. He does, however, describe his dislike for his politician brother. He describes him as egotistical; putting a bad taste in the reader's mouth... a ploy I soon discover. 

When the evening begins, the reader believes Claire and Paul have a loving marriage. The verbal conversation of Serge and his wife, Babette, is interpreted via eye contact and nonverbal messages between Claire and Paul. They sense discord and difficulties in their marriage and discuss it through looks, smiles, and smirks. As the course of the evening continues, the reader learns about Paul and Claire's back story; their marriage, their home life, their son's behavior, Paul's illness, and Claire's long term hospital stay.

Paul describes how he and Claire discovered what their son and nephew had done. The climax of the story comes to a head when they, as parents, decide what they are going to do about it.

I tore through this book in 2-3 sittings. I love stories full of dialogue, suspense, and psychology. This book is marketed as "A European Gone Girl" and now having finished it, I can see why. I gave this book 4/5 stars for readability, plot, and suspense. I read a few poor reviews of this book stating that none of the characters were likeable. I don't think that a book has to have likeable characters to have interesting characters. This is a book that will have many people talking. Definitely a great book club pick. Once you finish it you will immediately want to talk about it!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where'd You Go Bernadette


Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

"Misplaced genius." I really like that description about Bernadette because that's what the whole story is about. Bernadette is one of those mothers that most teenage girls would be embarrassed to claim as their own. She doesn't cook, clean, or up keep their huge house. Bee doesn't care about any the image of her mother at all... it's the rest of the word that does. Her neighbors think she's crazy and her husband thinks she's lost her mind and needs psychiatric help.

 Much of the book is written through emails and faxes from mothers of the pretentious school district Bee attends, emails to and from Bernadette's assistant Manjula, doctor's reports, and parts are narrated by Bee.  The format was different that most books I've read recently. I listened to this one on audiobook, so it took me a disk or two to really get the flow of the book. This is probably a book that it better read than listened to. Once I got into it though, I loved it. 

Parts of this book literally made me laugh out loud. The emails to and from some of the mothers were just hilarious. Other parts were heartbreaking. Bee is only 15 years old, but she has been subjected to a lot of sadness. I enjoyed how the author described what had happened to her and how she comes to terms with it all. 

Bernadette's character was my favorite. The author did a great job of developing her story and describing how she got to her breakdown. She, too, had been through a lot of sadness which ultimately made her "go crazy" as everyone was saying.  She was heartbroken over many miscarriages and also over her broken career. Her husband never really understands what she's going through; however, I believe that he is the one who truly had a midlife crisis. I found myself wanting to shake him for how he spoke to both Bee and Bernadette and for how he reacted to a lot of the things that went on in the story.

Where's You Go Bernadette was a great read. I give it 4/5 stars for plot and character development. The format is different than a lot of novels which made it fun and readable. The book made me realize how important it is to make time to do the things that make you happy in life.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Invisible Bridge


This book is for the serious reader only. I listened to it on audio and it was 22 disks. When I looked it up on Amazon, it said it was over 600 pages. Normally I would not attempt a book like this during the school year, but I think I can tackle any book on audio. It took me a good month and a half to listen to it. Now that's over, I find myself missing the characters before and after work. I spent a total 28 hours with them!

The story starts off in 1937 when Andras Levi, a young Jewish man from Hungary, sets off for architecture school in Paris. Prior to his departure he is asked to carry a letter to a woman named C. Morganstern, but is not allowed to mention it to anyone. Soon after meeting C. Morganstern (Clara) he falls in love with her and learns about her mysterious past. She is living in Paris under an alias and Andras is determined to find out why. They have a whirl wind romance in the midst of Andras's first two years of school.

As the years go on, Andras and Clara's relationship continues. As 1939 and war approach, Andras learns that he must return to Hungary to renew his Visa. Clara has to decide whether or not to return with him... a very difficult decision considering her past (I'll leave the rest of this up to mystery).

Once Andras returns to Hungary, the war is almost in full force. He is sent to a labor camp with many other Jewish men. He is worked almost to death, given very little food, and is infested with lice. War devastates Andras's family and the rest of Hungary. The author did a fantastic job of developing the characters of the entire Levi family as well as the supporting characters throughout the story. I felt like I knew every one of them. I learned about being a Jew in Hungary during WWII... and how Hungary was an ally of Germany. I enjoy historical fiction based on WWII, so this book definitely held my interest and taught me many things I did not know about Hungary.

For those who enjoys historical fiction, beautiful and thorough character development, and a thick plot, this book is for you. I give this book 4.5/5 stars. My only complaint is that I wish there was more dialogue about some of the most interesting and heightened plot points. The author talked about many of the events in the past... I enjoy reading about events as they actually happen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky


I picked this book up as part of a buy 2 get 1 free deal going on at Barnes and Noble. I'd never heard of the author or the book, but it looked decent enough.  This is a story of a young girl who survived a terrible tragedy. Both of her parents were damaged people; alcoholics both suffering from depression. Rachel's mother was a white woman from Denmark and her father a black army man. After the accident, Rachel goes to live with her paternal grandmother. While living with her, Rachel grows up and has to face the demons of her past and also the racial prejudices of being a biracial girl.

I gave this story 3 stars because of the writing. The plot could have been developed so much further. I am not a fan of books that keep the reader hoping for more. This is a quick read, but definitely not a must read

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Me Before You


 I finished this book up over a week ago. Before I posted about it I had to emotionally get over it. By the time I had finished it I wanted to throw it in the fire. I have NEVER cried so hard from a book. Most of the time when I am reading a sad book I will shed a silent tear or two.... NOT in this one. I was bawling my eyes out like my dog had just died.

Will Troyer, a very handsome, successful 30 something lived a full life. He made a lot of money, had a glamorous girlfriend, and took adventurous vacations all around the world. One day as he leaves for work and was hit by a car and is left a quadriplegic. He is forced to move in with his parents needing round the clock care for all of his needs.

His parents become worried for his emotional well being and decide that they want to hire someone to raise his spirits. Enter Lou, a 26 year old eccentric dresser still living with her parents. She was laid off at her job at the bakery and is forced to quickly find a new one to help her parents with the mortgage. Lou has never left her little town for travel, college or anything.

Lou begins to work for the Will's family and their relationship is the essence of the story.  This story caused me to think how circumstance dictates our lives. Will and Lou never would have met if it weren't for his accident or her never leaving her hometown. It also made me think about how women truly see confidence as the sexiest trait in a man. Emotional love can mean more than physical love.

I won't tell you the reason why this story caused such an emotional reaction in me. I think it may have changed how strongly I felt about what happened in the book. I will say that you WILL feel strongly about it. It left me thinking about how important it is for a person to feel like they are able to make their own choices about their life even if they are not physically able to get up and go where they want to go. 

I really struggled whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I decided on 3 stars because of the character development and the characters in general. Most of them did not have as much depth as I typically like. I almost gave it 4 stars because the plot and climax of the story caused such a deep reaction in me. I urge those who choose to read this book to make a personal opinion about it. This is definitely unforgettable to say the least.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lisa Genova


 When I was in graduate school, I took a course called Cognitive Communication Disorders. In this class I learned all about right hemisphere brain damage and its related disorders. One of the most interesting disorders was called hemispatial neglect or more commonly, "left neglect." I'll never forget how interested I was in it. Left neglect is caused by some sort of trauma to the right hemisphere of the brain be it a stroke or traumatic brain injury. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. That is why it is called "left neglect." A person suffering from left neglect has little to no awareness that there is a left at all. People on their left sides are not in their field of vision, food on the left side of the plate might as well not be there, and the left leg is basically nonexistent because the person cannot knowingly control it. Patients with this condition must be retrained to know that there is a left side of the world. I took this course as part of my adult speech-language pathology courses. I have decided to pursue my career to be a pediatric speech-language pathologist... my only experience with adult patients is 1-2 hours a week (sometimes not even that much). My professor would be so disappointed to know that my only experience with left neglect is through a novel.

Sarah and Bob have a wonderful life. Two fast paced rigorous careers, a fantastic house in the suburbs, a vacation house near the slopes in Vermont, plenty of money, and 3 thriving children. Sarah works 80 hours a week and is lucky to see her kids off to school and put them to bed; her only complaint in  life. One day on her way to work she is in a terrible car crash and is lucky to leave with her life. When she wakes up in the hospital over a week later she learns she has suffered a right hemisphere traumatic brain injury resulting in left neglect. She enters an inpatient rehabilitation center and received therapies to help her regain her independence... both occupational and physical therapies. I was very disappointed that there was no mention of a speech-language pathologist. The book talks about her journey back to life... a very different life. 

The novel was entertaining. I enjoyed listening to it on the way to and from work in the car. My only complaint is that it became cheesy towards the end with how it delivered its message; Don't let work take over your life.

Personally, I enjoyed her other novel better. I read this one a few years ago:


Alice, similar to Sarah in Left Neglected, is at the height of her career. She is a professor of neurology at Harvard. Her students love her and she loves her job. At age 50, Alice develops early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. Knowing full well about the disease, Alice narrates her mental decline as she and her husband are hit head on with the side effects of the illness. What starts off as simply forgetting her keys quickly turns into Alice not remembering the 5 minute drive to work. This story was keenly told from Alice's first person point of view. The author wants the reader to get an inside view of how the mind changes as the disease progresses. 

If you choose to read only one of these books, I would recommend Still Alice although both are worth the read. For anyone who is interested in neurology, these books should be on your list!