Sunday, January 19, 2014

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes
Dec 22, 2013-Jan 5, 2014

What an unexpected surprise! Joanna highly recommended this book to me with the warning: don't be fooled into thinking this is chick lit. Because it sure starts out that way. And then suddenly you're drawn in and the emotion is real and raw.

Louisa has just lost her long-time, dead-end job that she actually loved. She's been dating the same guy for seven years and sees no real future with him. She is comfortable, plain and simple. Desperate to find a new job, she accepts work as an aide to a quadriplegic. With no experience, she is promised that her tasks are mainly to provide food, cleaning and a watchful eye over Will. Will had it all; a highly successful executive with a gorgeous girlfriend and a great urban apartment, when his life was changed in an instant. Now he reluctantly accepts Lou into his life, but it's not long before she cracks his hard exterior and develops real feelings for him. And that, my friends, is where the fluff ends.

The rest of the story is so emotional, surprising and even controversial that I absolutely couldn't put it down. The night I finished Me Before You, it was nearly 2am and I had to take short breaks because I couldn't read the words through my tears. Moyes succeeded in running the reader through the emotional gamut. Worth losing a good night's sleep over. Although I'm not a fan of book clubs, this one would be the perfect choice. I found myself thinking about it days after I finished reading. I'm usually pretty stingy with my star ratings, but this undoubtedly deserves four. Even four-and-a-half (I have to reserve those five-star ratings...there's a lot of years of reading ahead of me!).

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

by Helen Fielding
November 2013

Oh, Bridget, how I've missed you. It's good to have you back, you nutty girl. It's been almost 15 years since The Edge of Reason, and in Bridget's life the same amount of time has also passed. Back in 1996, I listened to the audiobook version of Bridget Jones' Diary, and this time around I had to do the same. There's something about listening to Bridget's voice that adds to the fun of her story.

Mad About the Boy starts out a little depressing. Though it's not a spoiler, Mark Darcy is dead, and I didn't like that one bit. It's been five years since his shocking death and Bridget is nearly ready to move on. But Bridget's first focus is on her young children, Billy and Mabel, and her second is on her Twitter followers. Hilarious. Thanks to Twitter, Bridget meets a "toy boy" and enjoys a sexual reawakening.

Our old favorites are back too – Jude, Tom, and of course, Daniel Cleaver. Bridget does her best to be a good mother, and she really is, but she makes her share of mistakes. Ultimately, she adores her children and sees Mark in them at every turn.

Although I don't usually love books-turned-into-movies, I do thoroughly enjoy the Bridget Jones movies. And as I started listening to this one, I couldn't help but think that there'd be no way they can make a movie without Mark Darcy (love, love Colin Firth!). But as the story progressed, I started to see a way that it could work out, and still have some room for Mark. I do hope it comes to pass, but I also wonder if Renee Z would be up for it? She'd have to play a 51-year old, after all.

Poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, Mad About the Boy doesn't disappoint. Bridget is definitely one of my favorite characters in fiction. I think we'd make great friends. I just might listen to all three books again.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

We are Water

by Wally Lamb
Nov 19-Dec 22, 2013

"A life I didn't choose chose me."

It wasn't until the last few pages that the theme of Wally Lamb's latest novel was actually spelled out. But it was nice to see it in writing. A lightbulb moment for sure.

It's no secret my love of every word Lamb writes, and it's always an exciting day when he releases a new book. Unlike many authors, Lamb keeps us anxiously waiting years for his next masterpiece. Luckily it's only been five years since The Hour I First Believed. I was beyond excited to dive in to all 576 pages of delicious storytelling.

Annie Oh is an artist who decides to end her 27-year marriage to Orion for her art dealer-turned-fiancée, Viveca. Viveca is rich, and it's difficult for Annie to adjust to the good fortune. Coming from modest beginnings, losing her mother and growing up in foster care, Annie struggles with her completely changed lifestyle. Her three children vary in their acceptance of Viveca, while her ex-husband, Orion, has struggles of his own. With chapters that weave between each member of the Oh family, and stories from past to present, it was so easy to be engrossed from beginning to end. Some subject matter was rather difficult to read (child molestation in particular), but very necessary in the plot development. Overall, We Are Water is a complex, layered story about a flood, family dynamics, difficult decisions and deep secrets with multiple, unimaginable sexual encounters. And I loved every minute of it.

You know how the last few chapters of most books have evident tonal changes that give the signal that the end is near? This one definitely doesn't do that. It was so great to keep reading as though there would be no end. Struggles were still unresolved, decisions were still not made, but I couldn't have been more satisfied.

"We are like water, aren't we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too....Like water we follow the path of least resistance."

Ultimately, Wally Lamb is a master storyteller and We Are Water is no exception. It really made me think about relationships and our ability to handle whatever life has to offer.

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