Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

A BYU-Idaho choir tour in British Columbia turns out to be anything but ordinary when soloist Stacie Cox spots a kidnapped child from Rexburg during a performance. Before Stacie can alert the authorities, the little girl disappears. Stacie vows to find and rescue her, a choice that forces her to deal with her guilt-ridden past and another little girl that haunts her dreams. When the handsome Matt Brennan helps Stacie in the search, she tries to resist the attraction she feels for him. Yet as he gains her friendship and trust, her resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. And after a series of harrowing events, Stacie must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her life -- and a possible future with Matt -- to save a stranger.

Don't avoid this book just because it is by an LDS author. Yes, it does take some religious views on things, but so does any other religious novel.

The plot is intriguing, and the beginning definitely surprised me. I don't know what I would do if I were in Stacie Cox's place. It's an easy read, and definitely keeps you turning the pages.

It's probably geared more towards young adult, but don't let it exclude you from reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


Rating: 4/5 stars

Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham

Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover -- a married man

Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with -- motherhood

Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes -- until a ghost from her past turns up

At the first of every month, when the office has reached its pinnacle of hysteria, Maggie, Roxanne, and Candice meet at London's swankiest bar for an evening of cocktails and gossip. Here, they chat about what's new at The Londoner, the glossy fashion magazine where they all work, and everything else that's going on in their lives. Or almost everything. Beneath the girl talk and the laughter, each of the three has a secret. And when a chance encounter at the cocktail bar sets in motion an extraordinary chain of events, each one will find her biggest secret revealed.
In Cocktails for Three, Madeleine Wickham combines her trademark humor with remarkable insight to create an edgy, romantic tale of secrets, strangers, and a splash of scandal.

All right. While the book may sound a little "edgy", it really isn't. It's actually fairly mild, as far as writing goes. This book was a quick read, and was definitely entertaining. It was a fun book to start the summer off with.

I would recommend this book to women for sure, because we all know how much men dislike anything feminine (just kidding, guys). It has a great plot and kept me turning pages. The ending was satisfactory, and it provided me with a different take on a lifestyle so unlike my own.

But I want to know what you all think of it, so go out and give it a read!


Rating: 4/5 stars

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

When your son can't look you in the eye . . . does that mean he's guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject--forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.
But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

OK guys, I really loved this book. It was definitely a page turner, one that you stay up until two in the morning reading (literally) because you don't want to put it down. Or maybe I'm the only one that does insane things like that.

The plot was brilliant, and I love all the rhetorical strategies and ironies strewn throughout its pages. Jodi Picoult really is a genius of an author. My goal in life is to read all her books someday. (Although if we're being realistic, most of them will be read this summer.)

Not only do you understand Asperger's better, but you gain an appreciation for the kind of things Jacob's family has to put up with. You don't judge them, you don't judge Jacob -- it's hard to imagine anyone really treating him like an outcast. I find it hard to believe that people are cruel enough to ignore him or anyone with Asperger's really -- it just doesn't seem realistic to me.

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. If you love mysteries, it's for you. If you love books that give you insight to something you may never have experienced before or is hard for neurotypical people to comprehend, it's for you. If you love crime dramas (which I definitely do), it's for you. And if you just love a good book, it's for you.

So go find a copy and start reading! Check your library, your friend's house, your grandmother's, your parents', a bookstore, or even a thrifty book exchange. And have fun reading!


Rating: 5/5 stars

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.

Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.

This was a completely different take on WWII than I'd ever read or heard before. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and to be honest I'm dying to know some things -- I also wonder which parts of the story are true, and which are woven around the imagination. I do feel the ending was a little rushed though, but overall it was a really good book.

I recommend this to anyone who is a Jerry Spinelli lover, or is looking for something to read about WWII. Or just go read it if you don't have anything better to read. You won't be sorry.


Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

As Picture Perfect begins, it is daybreak in downtown L.A. A woman suffering from amnesia is taken in by an officer new to the L.A. police force, after he finds her wandering aimlessly near a graveyard. Days later, when her husband comes to claim her at the police station, no one is more stunned than Cassie Barrett to learn that not only is she a renowned anthropologist, but she is married to Hollywood's leading man, Alex Rivers.
As Alex helps Cassie become reaccustomed to her fairy-tale existence, fragments of memory return: the whirlwind romance on location in Africa, her major anthropological discovery, the trajectory of Alex's career. Yet as Cassie settles into her glamour-filled life, uneasiness nags at her. She senses there is something troubling and wild that would alter the picture of her perfect marriage. When she finds a positive pregnancy test in her bathroom, she is flooded with dark memories. Trying to piece together her past, she runs to the other person she trusts to keep her hidden-- Will Flying Horse, the policeman who had initially harbored her.
Out of loyalty he cannot fully understand, Will spirits Cassie away to stay with his parents on the reservation where he grew up-- and to which he never wanted to return-- for the duration of her pregancy. Safe in South Dakota, Cassie contemplates her future. She weighs the ominous pattern of her marriage against her compassion for her husband. Cassie knows of the fear and self-loathing Alex harbors-- and of his hard-won transformation to the skilled actor he has become.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Alex's life is falling apart. Nominated for Best Actor for his most recent film, he can no longer conceal from the press the fact that his wife is gone. Lies beget lies, and soon his career is rocked by scandal.
When Cassie agrees to return to Hollywood with her son, it is with a conditional promise from Alex. But it is a promise he cannot keep. In order to free them both, Cassie holds a press conference and tells the world the secret about Alex it never knew-- and never would have believed.
Moving from the sweltering African grasslands to the desolate plains of the reservation to the claustrophobic glitz of Hollywood, Jodi Picoult's story is one rich in detail, breadth, and emotion.

I definitely recommend this book, just because it's so interesting. You can't help but love Alex Rivers, yet hate him at the same time. You want nothing more but for their relationship to work out. It accurately portrays the complexities of human relationships. It's very thought-provoking, and makes me wonder about some things. It's definitely a psychological book.

Give it a read and let me know what you think!


Rating: 5/5 stars

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

"When you learn how to die, you learn how to live."

Morrie Schwartz was the kind of man who always had something insightful and true to say about life. Even as he lay dying from muscular dystrophy.

Mitch Albom captures the story of his college professor's death so beautifully, and in a way that everyone can't help but connect with. Everyone has something to learn from this book, and from Morrie's life. The lessons he gives Mitch are incredibly valuable and something we all need to learn at some point.

Do you believe in reincarnation? I ask.
What would you come back as?
"If I had my choice, a gazelle."
A gazelle?
"Yes. So graceful. So fast."
A gazelle?
Morrie smiles at me. "You think that's strange?"
I study his shrunken frame, the loose clothes, the socks-wrapped feet that rest stiffly on foam rubber cushions, unable to move, like a prisoner in leg irons. I picture a gazelle racing across the desert.
No, I say. I don't think that's strange at all.

Even though I'm still young and in the prime of my life, I learned a lot from this spunky old man and his gifted writer of a student. I suggest that everyone read this book at least once in their lifetime, and let me know what you think of it.

What does it teach you?
What do you learn?
What things do you realize you need to value more? Less?


Rating: 5/5 stars