Books Lately

Talkin’ ’bout The Rosie Effect, A House In The Sky, The Husband’s Secret, Not That Kind Of Girl, and Armada.

First though, I wrote this article on outrageous CNE food over the past few years (well, list, article is a stretch) for Buzzfeed Community and I would love it if you guys checked it out!

Ok, onto the books.

books

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simspon

rosie-effect

Synopsis:

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge. Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a book. I completely fell in love with The Rosie Project when I read it, so yeah, I had some high expectations. This book did not meet those expectations. It wasn’t the same at all. In the first book all of Don’s quirks were entertaining, relatable, and endearing. In this book, his quirks were over the top and exaggerated. He was almost a parody of himself. And the author turned Rosie into a total bitch. The storyline was not doing it for me, and I found Don and Rosie’s relationship completely unrealistic (talk, guys! Just talk to each other, you idiots!), which was a disappointment because in the first book I loved their love.

I also don’t think the author paints women in the best light in this book, and that made me angry. So, I had a difficult time getting through it. I didn’t read very much for weeks because every time I would go to read I remembered that I was reading this book and I didn’t care for it, so I browsed Reddit instead. I didn’t care what happened, and I’ve never been so happy to get a book over with. I do not recommend (I gave this 2 stars on Goodreads, only because I still love Don). But I do still recommend the first book, The Rosie Project.

A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

a-house-in-the-sky

Synopsis:

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.

I read this next and it was a breath of fresh air. I loved this memoir and had a really difficult time putting it down. It was so beautifully written it was almost like poetry, and Amanda’s honest and raw narrative captivated me from the first page. I remember Amanda and Nigel being kidnapped in Somalia, and I remember their release over a year later. Amanda’s kidnapping hit especially close to home at the time because she was almost the same age as me, she was also Canadian, and her traveling up until that moment sounded like a dream. I have read reviews where people have said “Well, what did she think would happen going to Somalia?” and yeah, it’s incredibly dangerous and rife with war. But I think we can all relate to being young and feeling invincible. She did not deserve what happened to her and at times her suffering was difficult to read. But she rose above it and is stronger because of it.

This reviewer said it the best:

“Amanda, upon her return, did not disappear into the shadows. She took her experience and decided to create change that would directly impact the lives of the very community and country that so changed hers. Far from spewing hatred towards her captors, Amanda took a road of forgiveness (admittedly not an easy one), recognizing that her captors were born into the violence they inflicted on her and that no good could come of any of her suffering and loss if nothing changed.”

A House In The Sky is up there with The Glass Castle as my new favourite memoir. Highly recommend. Also, perhaps I am naive but I was not aware you could make that much money from serving!

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

the-husbands-secret

Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive..

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Normally I don’t love it when books skip around from character to character and there’s more than three characters (unless we are talking about a Babysitter’s Club Super Special, and then yes I do), but in this case the jumping around didn’t bother me. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters, so maybe it didn’t bother me because I wasn’t getting attached to them.

It was what it was, a light, easy, entertaining read (I’m not going to say summer read because I enjoy reading all kinds of books in the summer, heavy included). I was entertained throughout and I LOVED the ending. I do not say that often. Best ending I think the book could have had.

I enjoyed it and I would recommend it. 3 Star rating from me. But I have to say that I dislike the cover of The Husband’s Secret and I probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for my Bestie and her sister’s recommendation. It looks too romance-y.

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

not-that-kind-of-girl

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls comes a hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays that establishes Lena Dunham as one of the most original young talents writing today.

In Not that Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and, most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not that Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.”

Lena Dunham is a fantastic writer, absolutely. And I know it isn’t easy to write a book, so all the kudos there. But overall, I just don’t think Lena Dunham is my cup of tea. I find her to be weird in a very…weird…way. Weird in a way that is different from my weird, and I have a difficult time relating to her or her situations. I did live a completely different life than her, and I already struggle with understanding that people who live in NYC are real people (they’re too cool and sophisticated in my mind), so maybe that’s why.

Some parts of her book I very much enjoyed, and some parts I found myself skimming because it was too much mundane information and I didn’t care. She has her moments of hilarity and relatability, but I don’t think she’s the voice of her generation. This review says what I’m thinking better than I could ever articulate. In my opinion, it was just okay.

Armada by Ernest Cline

armada

Synopsis:

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

I loved Ready Player One. I knew that Armada couldn’t be as good and I tried to go into it with my expectations low, but I was still disappointed. I did not love it. I have heard this book being compared to a lot of other sci-fi works (Ender’s Game and The Last Starfighter in particular), but aliens are not my favourite and I don’t typically seek out alien things to consume so I am not familiar with either of them and can’t comment on that.

It was the entire narrative that I didn’t enjoy. While the book had its witty moments, I found the characters to be thin and difficult to connect to. To me, the dialogue between them was not realistic and seemed very surface and juvenile. I know it’s young adult, but I have read many young adult books where the characters were so real and vivid their conversations reminded me of real-life conversations between teenagers. I didn’t get that impression here.

Armada also lacked surprises and twists. Or I should say, the surprises and twists didn’t surprise me. I never fully felt into it, and I was never on the edge of my seat. I never had that feeling of not being able to put the book down because I couldn’t wait to read what happened next, and I never had any doubt about who was going to win the war in the end.

I would not recommend this book for my friends to read, because I know they would not enjoy it. I do, however, think there is a specific audience that would like it.

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4 responses to “Books Lately

  1. I finished the Rosie Project because I am loyal to Don as a character, but I agree with everything you said. Especially the portrayal of women. Spot on!

  2. Interesting! Now I want to buy A house in the sky… And find some time to read it!