Monday, January 26, 2015

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

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Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 236
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 14+

When a missed flight leads to meeting Oliver, Hadley no longer dreads the long flight to England for her father's wedding. The seven hours they spend together seem like forever, but when they part ways at Heathrow, Hadley is left alone, wondering how she's going to get through her father's wedding and if she'll ever see Oliver again.

Sometimes, you just need to read a book that's clever, fun, romantic, and just easy enough that you don't feel like you are pushing yourself through it. Smith's books are perfect for this. I had previously read another of her books, so when I was at the bookstore with a gift card from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to just buy this book.

The stories are sweet and simple, but with complicated elements. This is the kind of book that you just want to read curled up in a blanket on your couch, the cold trapped outside. Oliver is every girl's dream. In fact, I'm kind of wondering where my Oliver is . . . Anyway, even though I've only read two, I think any of Smith's books is going to offer an escape as you peek into the relationship of the main characters and fall in love as they do.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jackaby by William Ritter

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Algonquin
Pages: 299
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 13+

When Abigail Rook steps off the boat in New Fiddleham looking for an adventure, the last thing she expected to do was find one. Jackaby changes Abigail's ideas of reality and adventure right on their heads as she joins him in investigating the mysterious deaths that starting plaguing New Fiddleham.

I think I was drawn in by the cover at first--though it's a little misleading. Jackaby isn't a teenager, nor is he the narrator of the book. But that didn't matter, once I started reading. Ritter was able to create a supernatural Sherlock Holmes without making it feel like all he did was create a supernatural Sherlock Holmes.

Jackaby is strange and intelligent, yet lacks certain social graces or nuances. Abigail is his trusty assistant and historian--writing down the case much like John Watson did. But this time there are ghosts and trolls and other creatures that contribute to the story. This book is a standalone, but could very much become an enjoyable series if Ritter writes all of them as standalones--I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of Jackaby and Abigail and their companions.

There is no language and no sexual situations, though the murders could be a bit grisly for more sensitive readers.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 178
My rating: 4 stars

A middle aged man finds himself remembering a time in his childhood that he hadn't remembered before. A time that involved death, magic, the Hempstock women, and a pond that was an ocean.

If Neil Gaiman wrote a medical journal, it would read like a fairy story. I'm not sure what it is, but the simple nuances of his writing and his voice lend everything a sort of other worldly effect. Which just makes this book--which is other worldly--a story worth reading.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Ocean. Everything that Gaiman writes is so different from each other that I think it's hard to know what to expect. I think I thought that it would be just a man remembering something from his childhood (a la Guy in Your MFA, only better), but the addition of the Hempstocks, of the magic, made the story explode with color and imagination. In under 200 pages, this book was one of the best fantasy books that I had read in a while. There was no long description of the magic system, or background. It was simple, but intricate.

While this book may seem like a YA novel, I think that the themes and some of the situations makes it more adult.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Expats by Chris Pavone

More info*
Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 326
My rating: 2 stars

When Kate's husband gets a job in Luxembourg, it gives her the best way to quit the job she's started to hate. But when another expat couple seems to be checking up on them, Kate's CIA training kicks in. The FBI believes Kate's husband has stolen 50 million dollars. Kate is now faced with wondering who her husband is, if she should tell him about her other life, and who to believe.

This book started out one way, and I was really interested. Then with about a third of the book left, it just seemed to change and reading it was hard. I don't know if it just seemed that the story was dragging or the tone seemed different or what, but that last third was tough. The book was told in a unique way. Every few chapters there would be a chapter that was happening "Today"--so the book was kind of a long flashback/backstory. But even then there would be flashbacks. It made it a little hard to keep track of the story.

Something that was interesting was that there was a lot of talk about computer hacking. In my job the past few months I've been reading a lot about computer hacking and it was nice to know what the terms meant. Mostly it was for my own pride that I was actually learning something while I've been editing.

I think this book would be more liked by those who like to read spy novels. There is some sex and language.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Dey St.
Pages: 329
My rating: 3 stars

What do comedy, TV, Hilary Clinton, Smart Girls, and raising boys all have in common? Amy Poehler. In her memoirs, Poehler invites you into her home as a friend and shares not only how she became who she is today, but also advice on how to live life the fullest and get through hard times. Everything from growing up in Boston to Parks and Recreation are included, with a few guest writers pitching in.

I like Amy Poehler. I think she's funny, and I like what she's doing with her brand Smart Girls at a Party. Reading her book was at times like seeing a stand up, and other times like having a long "Ask Amy" video--that is, part funny, part serious and deep. I did not want to stop reading it.

However, there were times when I felt a little like I was meeting someone in person and realizing they weren't exactly who I thought they would be. You probably know by now that I'm not a big fan of hard swearing and sex; both of which are included in Yes Please. Poehler also talks about drug use in her younger days. For the sake of honesty in her memoirs, I suppose that to not include some of these things would have been akin to lying. Mostly, I could have done without all the F-words.

Fans of Parks and Rec will enjoy the chapter about it and how it came to be and the people that work on it. I also enjoyed stories from Poehler's SNL days. I appreciated the way she spoke about her two sons and what she does to bring some magic into their lives. Like I mentioned before, this book runs the gambit from hilarious to sweet and sensitive. Recommended for fans of Amy Poehler.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.