The Book Report

Summer Reading List 2013

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

There are a LOT of “Daughter” books (so many, I will be reviewing 5 and making a daughter’s club post later this year). This book is based in the nineteenth century when medicine and “pharmacy” were beginning to split. It is very slightly drawn out but very good. The main character Lilly, is a (you’ve guessed it!) daughter of an apothecary. Her mother leaves them and she is left to take care of her father and her mentally delayed younger brother. This is based in England so there are titles and society to deal with. Lilly is suited by a few different men during the book. What I did find especially refreshing is that the author made Lilly into a girl who didn’t really care. Men weren’t the first thing on her mind. She wasn’t being coy and she didn’t pine over men. She could take them or leave them, which you don’t get very often. The book touches on a lot of different themes, love, abandonment, changing times, a little mystery, and you kind of get a lot of bang for your buck. I would definitely recommend this for a slight change of pace.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Oh, Nick, you’ve done it again. His books are all essentially about the same thing. Broken man, broken lady, they get together, some shit blows up, they live happily ever after. Normally, that would drive me nuts. However, I look for his books because once in a while I love the super-easy-to-read romance novels that are wholesome and make you go “awwww” when you read them. I’m a total sucker for them. To me, Sparks is a genius because he could just pump these babies out factory style, same stories, different names, and they would always become best sellers and women would just eat them up. This one is no different. A woman trying to escape her psycho cop-husband escapes to a tiny Carolina coast town and meets a nice handsome widower and they fall in love. I won’t spoil it for you but shit blows up and it gets good.

Drinking My Way Through 14 Dating Websites by Tiffany Peon

This short book is about a girl who went through a crappy break up trying to get back in the dating scene in NYC. Pretty typical chick book. However, it doesn’t really have a story line. It bounces all over the place leaving a lot of the stories unfinished, which really began to annoy me. If you are looking to date online, then this is a great book for you because it is basically an overblown review of 14 different dating websites. That is pretty much it. I read a review of 3 dating websites recently in a magazine and it was pretty much the same kind of thing as this book. I was hoping for a more comedic approach and more of a story-line, but I was disappointed. This is an “ehh” type of book. I wouldn’t really recommend it.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald

This is an autobiography of a man who grew up in Southie (South Boston, MA). He details the hardships and the crazy shit that happened during the 70’s and 80’s in the Old Colony housing projects in South Boston. In his memoir, he writes about the race wars going on, the riots, police brutality, drugs, death, violence while always reminding the reader about the loyalty of the place and the love of his family. His mother was a single mom raising 10 kids in the projects and losing some of her children to various evils. The book gives you a glimpse into a close-knit crazy community otherwise closed off from strangers. It is incredibly moving and makes you really thankful for the life you live. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Son By Lois Lowry

Growing up, The Giver by Lois Lowry was a book we read in class. She has since written 4 books in the “series” (The other two being Gathering Blue and The Messenger). They are all their own stories but have small connecting threads between them that make them fit together. They are actually youth books but they are excellent. They are about a dystopian society and Son is the final piece to the puzzle. It brings the whole story full circle and makes everything make sense. This book is broken up into 3 parts, “Before, Between, and Beyond”. Claire is a young birth mother of a main character in The Giver and the strange society takes him away. Through struggles of living in the dystopia and realizing that things “just ain’t right” Claire escapes and nearly dies, having to learn basic life skills all over again. Claire works to escape the village she lives in to find her son, having faint memories of him. It is a bit strange and mature, I think, but the story is very intricately woven and that is all I will say about it… It is hard to explain and if you read The Giver, you need to read this. Also, if you haven’t read The Giver, get on that and then read this. It really is good.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Natalie, the main character, is a complete control freak. She wants everything to be her way and perfect. She is in her senior year of high school and dealing with normal high school things. She wants to get into good schools, kick ass in student council, and dabbles in her normal high school social life. It is all about the control and how all the labels in high school should just disappear and let everyone live the way they want to. I felt like I was reading a book about my own high school career. I had the same thoughts, the same feelings, and even some really similar things happen to me (or at least around me). I kind of felt like my teenage years were on paper and the emotion and thought it stirred up in my own brain was totally worth the read.

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Dora Rare is a coming of age woman living in rural Nova Scotia during the first World War. Dora is trained by the skillful and almost mystic Miss Marie Babineau, a Cajun midwife. Miss B teaches Dora everything she knows and how to “catch babies” and heal the people of Scot’s Bay. A doctor comes to town in hopes of capitalizing on the women’s birthing and meets resistance from Miss B. After Dora is married, Miss B disappears and Dora is left to do the work she had been trained in. After constant attacks and misfortunes, author Ami McKay gives the reader what they secretly hope for throughout the book-Dora’s happiness. The book is well written and the characters are rich. I enjoyed this book as it kept my attention, made me feel for the characters, and gave me what I wanted.

5 titles I would recommend picking up today:

The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Schaffer and Annie Barrows: A writer in London receives letters post WWII from a literary club in Geurnsey, a small island in the English channel that was occupied by Germans in the war. She travels to the island to meet her fan club and gets much more than she could have expected. This is an interesting and feel good read.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: At first, I was skeptical about this book. However, I read it and literally felt like I was able to go on some sort of personal journey of my own without having to leave my house. Read it. You’ll see what I mean.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett: Like Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End”, he creates a world of intertwining characters. It makes you want to read more and more. Based during the first World War, it follows families from 4 different countries. This is the first book in the “Century Trilogy” from Follett. It is interesting how the main characters relate to each other yet have their own stories.

Brilliant by Marne Davis Kellogg: Kick is an American living the life in London. She is a fabulous jewel thief and likes the finer things in life. This book is a great one for a fun, easy read that you’ll really enjoy.

The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff: A young Polish Jew works to survive the war posing as a Catholic woman and works for a high-ranking Nazi official while trying to help other Jews survive. This is a great book.

The Band Wagon

If you feel the urge to jump on the band wagon and read the super popular books, read this first.

  1. The Fifty Shades Trilogy: If I were to give these books an over all grade, I would give them a D. The first (Fifty Shades of Grey) and second (Fifty Shades Darker) would probably get a C- but the third (Fifty Shades of Freed) would most definitely get an F (I didn’t even bother finishing the last end of the chapter because it was just that bad). They are poorly written with little to no story line. The only reason these are popular is the abundance of sex scenes. The majority of those paperback books have better sex and are far better written. The sex scenes aren’t incredibly outrageous either so you really aren’t missing anything. Save your time and money on this one ladies and pick up a few paperbacks and you will be much happier.
  2. The Hunger Games: I actually really enjoyed these. I would give these a grade of a B+. The first (The Hunger Games) would get B+, the second (Catching Fire) an A, and the third (Mockingjay) a B. They were interesting, kept my attention, and were creative. I especially liked the second one. Many trilogies’ second book is the “middle” and usually pretty boring. Kudos to [author] for making the second book actually really good. These books are worth the hype. Also, if you saw the movie-read the book. It will explain so much more the  movie doesn’t and won’t give you motion sickness (that’s not just me right-the cinematography was so bumpy!).
  3. The Help: This is a great read. I also saw the movie and was excited to see how the book and movie related. It is definitely a book where you root for the main character. I give it an A.
  4. Water for Elephants: This book is worth the read for sure. I give this an A as well. It is well written, the story is great, and it keeps your interest. It really gets you to care for the characters.
  5. The Lucky One: Ah Nicholas Sparks, you devil, you. I give this a A- because it won’t go down as one of the most complex classics of all time, but he does what he does best: a good love story. All the gooey sweetness of love stories of his other books is in this one too, making the ladies love it.
  6. The Lovely Bones: Oh man, I didn’t like this book. It was just weird. I just found it sad and depressing. There was nothing wrong with the writing but no, I do not see what all the hype is about. I give it a C+.
  7. A Reliable Wife: This was a very interesting book. It wasn’t what I had expected. At first, I felt like it took me a little while to get going on it but I ended up really liking it. It was kind of surprising and if you read it, you’ll go “hmmm” too. Nothing too crazy, but not a bad read either. I’d say a B+ for this one.

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