Life...The Most Complicated Thought

The unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson

Ummm...what to say? This book was weirdly good. I mean I am still considering how and what to think of this book. There are eleven short stories and author's interview at the end. Here are the stories:

Grand Stand-In
The woman who rents herself out as a grandmother usually to families that had lost their grandmothers but do not want their children to miss the fun or are too coward to tell the children about the loss.

Blowing up on the Spot
The main character works in a Scrabble factory sorting the tiles to look for the letter Q. His younger brother is suicidal ever since the parents passed away. How did they die? They exploded and there were no explanations.

The Dead Sister Handbook: A Guide for Sensitive Boys
This is formatted as a guide (thus the title). There are topics and then instructions. For example, one of the instructions stated what to do when the brother finds the sister's diary.

Birds in the House
A competition is planned to see who will inherit the ancestral mansion after the death of the mother. The narrator, daughter of one of the brothers, witnesses death and greed into action as each brother fights to win the mansion.

Mortal Combat: (I do not think I can say anything else without giving away the entire story.)
Two guys fondle each other once while studying in the library. One friend wants to advance and the other does not. Then there is the game, Mortal Combat.

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth
Three friends graduated from college with degrees that are useless in the real world. With having nothing to do, they dig and dig and dig.

Shooting Man: This story was my favorite.
The circus comes to town and one trick is that one guy shoots himself and comes back to life. The guy convinces the wife to go to the show. Later he goes back to the circus to learn the truth.

The Choir Director Affair (The Baby's Teeth): I felt that this story was pointless.
There are two parts to the story. The first part is about the father having an affair and second part is about the baby having full set of teeth at that age and the narrator's fascination about them.

Go, Fight, Win
Penny (16) is a cheerleader in her school. She has a relationship with a 12-year-old boy who lives across the street.

The Museum of Whatnot
This story is about a lady who takes care of a museum, which collects other people's obsessions, which are donated after they die such as collection of regular spoons.

Worst-Case Scenario
This story is about a man whose job is to tell people the worst-case scenarios (disasters they might face in their lives).

There is definitely more to the stories than what is written here like human nature, dysfunctional families, feelings, emotions, and more. My favorite one was the "Shooting Man" and I enjoyed "Grand Stand in," "Birds in the House," and "Go, Fight, Win." Some stories were too much out of the ordinary and I just did not know what to think of them. I felt some stories were unfinished. Some were depressing, but some had happy endings.

If you ever decide to pick up this book, which I recommend you do, do read the interview at the end. Kevin Wilson will dive into the reasons he started writing. I give this book 8 out of 10.

You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning

One of the librarians recommended this book to me. I saw the title and thought, "This has to be funny." Well it was damn funny!!! The author is Celia Rivenbark. She is too good at what she does. This is my first Celia Rivenbark's book. My first Rivenbark book made me her fan. There are many many LOL moments in the book. Each chapter is a different story. I just loved her too much. I highly recommend this book. I just don't know what else to write. She simply is The Best in her genre. I give her 9/10. Read this book!!!

I found a YouTube video of Hilarie Burton's reading of the book. Check it out and decide for yourself:



 

This book qualifies for the Audio Book Challenge.
Time to watch Comedy Circus. Good Night!!!

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I finished the book last Friday and I am glad I waited a week to blog about it. When I finished listening to it, I wanted to chuck the book out of my car. Thank god that I realized that the book belongs to the library. Now that should tell you how I felt about the novel. I think I am calmer about the book.

A short synopsis from Jodi Picoult's site:

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate - a life and a role that she has never questioned… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister - and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable… a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life… even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less?

The story is told from various points of views. Chapters shuffle between characters. Anna is the main character (which is obvious from the synopsis). She is a typical 13-year-old girl, who is unsure most of the time. At the same time having dealt with a sick sibling, she is mature for her age. Then there is the sick sibling, Kate. She is not given a voice in the novel; thus, it is harder to judge her. There is an older brother, Jesse. At times, I felt that he is just hungry for attention, which is definitely present in the novel, but at the same time, it is his way of dealing with a sick sister. He cannot be a donor for Kate, which frustrates him. Then there are the parents, Brian and Sara. Brian is a firefighter and is closer to Anna. His character is bearable. Sara, on the other hand, is irritating. She is manipulative. I felt like at times Sara did not see Anna as her daughter but only as a savior of Kate.

Beside the Fitzgerald family, there is Campbell Alexander, the lawyer, and Julia Romano, guardian ad litem. Campbell has a service dog but does not explain why until later. His explanations for having a service dog bring comedy relief to the book. Julia is Campbell's ex-girlfriend and readers can easily see what will happen to them.

The book started out good. The story is captivating from the start. I liked how each situation is presented from different point of views. I wish Picoult had given a voice to Kate because I feel she is very important to the story. At the same time, I understand why Kate's character had to be mute in order for the story to build. Just like everyone else, I am not happy with the ending. I felt betrayed when I listened to it, but now I am somewhat okay about it. I still wish Picoult had taken a different route. I got teary-eyed twice during the book.

The audio book is read by various artists, where each character is represented by one. I liked that because I think it would have been difficult for one reader to present so many characters. Having various artists read the book definitely added to my likeness of the book.

I would give this book 7.5/10 for two reasons. One reason is Sara Fitzgerald and the second is the ending.

This book qualifies for the Audio Book Challenge.

The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

I became curious about this book when I read about it on Swapna's blog in December 2009. The festivities were in the air and I felt like reading a holiday novel. However, I finally got a chance to read it in beginning of March, not so Christmassy then. My excitement went down slightly but since I finally got my hands on this book, I figured I read it.

Lou Suttern is a hard working man. Work is his priority due to which he might be up for a promotion. He makes sure he is first at work and does whatever he can to prove himself. He does not spend time with this family and misses all the family gatherings. Amidst all this, he meets a homeless man named Gabe. Gabe has a talent of remembering people by their shoes. Lou hires him, an act that will turn his life around.

The novel is told from a police officer's point of view, which put an interesting spin to the story. He is trying to convey a message to a teenager who is in trouble with the law. The story was heartwarming and original.  As norm for all the Christmas stories, there is always a moral and a miracle in the book. I won't say what the miracle is because that will spoil the book. The moral of the story is the value of time. Lou finally realizes how important it is to spend time with his friends and family. I want to write more about this book but I think whatever I say after this about the book might become a spoiler. Last thing I will say, make sure you do check out this book.

I give this book 8 out of 10.

This was my first Ahern book. Now that I have her on my radar, I will be sure to check out her other books.

Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

There are six study rooms at my local library: three on the children side of the library and three on the adults. The days I get the room on the children side, I usually end up browsing the books in the children section. I came across this book last month. This was a very cute book.

Book's website: Dork Diaries follows eighth grader Nikki Maxwell, who chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iPhone; her enthusiasm for drawing & art; and a love/hate fascination with the new school's queen bee, a girl named Mackenzie who becomes Nikki's rival in a school-wide art competition.

Nikki Maxwell is just adorable. I think if the junior high girls read this, they would say, "Oh my god....this is soooo true." My junior high experience was not any similar to this book; but nonetheless, I enjoyed it very much. The artwork was nice. Every time I came across one of the pictures, I wanted to grab some color pencils and fill in the colors.

I felt the story was not original. It ran on the same lines as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The older brother like figure from Wimpy Kid was missing in the Dork Diaries. Beside that, I thought this book and the Wimpy Kid had many similar situations, except for the point of view. Nikki is slightly more mature than Greg (Wimpy Kid). Overall I enjoyed it.

I give this book 8 out of 10. I will look out for the second book, which I believe will release later in the year. If anybody is looking for a very light read, go for this book.

Reading Status:

Reading Now:  
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Audio CD)
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson.

Book to Review: The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

This audio book was a full-cast radio play by the Colonial Radio Theatre (2 hours). This was my first "full-cast radio play" and it was a different experience. I liked Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and decided to try this book.


Wikipedia:  Two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern town one October. The carnival's leader is the mysterious "Mr. Dark" bears a tattoo for each person who, lured by the offer to live out his secret fantasies, has become bound in service to the carnival. Mr. Dark's malevolent presence is countered by that of Will's father, Charles Halloway, who harbors his own secret desire to regain his youth.

Story was good. The characters were good. I liked everything about the book. Now on to the audio book. This was my first experience with radio play so I had no idea what to expect. While listening to it, I felt that I was watching a movie with my eyes closed. The cast did an excellent job but I really needed the visual with it. There were moments when one character said, "Look," and all I head next was different sounds. I was hungry for some description of the events. Because of which, I felt like I was missing bits of the story. I don't think I did. This audio book did make me curious enough to check out the original book soon.

I give this audio book 7/10 and the story gets 10/10, so the average is 8.5/10.

This audio book qualifies for the Audio Book Challenge.

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

I think I am going to end up reading all the books by Sophie Kinsella. At the same time, I do not think she is one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed The Undomestic Goddess very much and Shopaholics series are okay. I really wanted to listen to Can You Keep a Secret? by her but I have to find the audio book for it. In the meanwhile, I decided to read Remember Me?


Remember Me? is about Lexi Smart who wakes up in a hospital after a car accident to find that she has no memory of her past three years. However, in those three years a lot has happened. She became the director of the department she used to work in 3 years back. She now drives a Mercedes. Best of all, she is married to a good-looking millionaire. She realizes that with every good thing, there is something bad. Now she has to work on figuring out her life.

One thing I liked very much about the book that it did not drag. I finished the book in a day and a half. It was a very light read and after listening to The Unnamed and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, I appreciated this book very much. The personalities of the characters were justified. I was disappointed with one fact but I will not say it here. I think it is a spoiler.

Jon was such a sweetheart. I felt bad for him for a while but I have noticed that Kinsella does not leave her characters stranded. He definitely has a positive ending. Lexi's rich husband is too focused and businesslike to understand relationships. Lexi, the main character, is charming and witty. I felt that Lexi and Samantha from The Undomestic Goddess shared few similarities.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I give this book 8/10.

Fact: Madeleine Wickham goes under the pen name Sophie Kinsella.

I did not know that. Interesting.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker

You know there are some books that leave a sour taste in the mouth. Well, this was one of those books. I had very high expectations and at one point this book came close (not very) to meeting them, but then BOOM...it all came crashing down. I realize what happens in the book was necessary to the plot but at the same time, I don't think it was. Before I go more into it, here is a little summary of the book:

Truly is bigger than average in Aberdeen County. In fact, her teacher in school calls her "A little giant." Her mother dies in childbirth and the father becomes alcoholic. She has an older sister, Serena Jane, is opposite of Truly, beautiful and seemingly perfect. Serena Jane marries Robert "Bob Bob" Morgan, the son of the doctor of the county, against her wishes. After 8 years of marriage, Serena Jane disappears, leaving Truly responsible for taking care of Bobby, Serena's son. Men in Morgans family have always been the doctors of the county, starting from first Robert Morgan, who married Tabitha, the witch doctor. Tabitha has left the recipes of her remedies hidden in the house. The story becomes interesting when Truly discovers those remedies...

I hope I have not given away too much of the story. Overall, it was a decent story. It was original. However, the characters spoiled the fun for me. I found Truly, the main character, really really annoying. She does not speak up for herself and I felt that she is overly obsessed with her sister. Due to which, she doesn't appreciate the people who gave her roof over her head, the Dyresons. All was good and dandy, until certain events happened which made me unhappy (so there is a fault in the story...so I take my words back about it being a decent story). Serena Jane was just plain selfish. She didn't care about anybody, including her son. She was definitely the second character that I didn't like.

After I was done listening to it, I felt relieved it was over. I did enjoy most of the story. The story took some turns, which made me very unhappy. Since I enjoyed about 80% of the story, I give it 8/10.

This book qualifies for the Audio Book Challenge.

Before I end this post, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holi!!!

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