Book Review of The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Title: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Published: Hyperion, Feb 27 2006
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 208
Source: Amazon.ca
Format: paperback
Rating: ImageImageImageImageImage

From Goodreads:

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer. 
In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

My Review:  This book has been on my reading list for a long time. I just recently bought it this summer and couldn’t wait to read it. I watched the TV movie when I was younger with my grandma and I loved it. The idea of the story is so interesting and really makes you think. Every time I read this book I always start to think if this really happens when you go to heaven who would my five people be. I know who I would want them too be, but I don’t think it works that way. Also I would pick something to do with books for my Heaven. Probably a beach house with book shelves full of great books on every wall. This book gave me goosebumps reading each of the stories of the people he meets. My favorite story has to be the one with his wife. I love, love, love there relationship and it reminds me of my own. I love that she said she could feel his love even all the way up in heaven. I recommend everyone read this book, the story will stay with you forever. At least that has been my experience.

Quotes: 

“This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.”

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”

“Life has to end. Love doesn’t.” 

Book Review of The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald

Title: The Great GatsbyImage
Author: Scott F. Fitzgerald 
Published: Scribner 1925
Genres: Fiction, Classic 
Pages: 192
Source: Free on iBooks 
Format: ebook
Rating: ImageImageImage

From Goodreads:

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

My Review:  I decided to read The Great Gatsby because the new movie was coming out and I like to read books before I see the movie. I also liked that I could get it for free on iBooks. It was the first book I read for the Bout of Books 8.0 read-a-thon. I read it in one day since it was a short/quick read. At first I didn’t know to much about it. Its one of those books you just need to read it if you want to know what its about. I enjoyed reading this book overall, but I found some boring parts that dragged on a bit. Also the ending was a bit weird, hard to explained but it seemed to escalate quickly and I wasn’t to sure what happened in the end. I really liked Gatsby and Nicks friendship, it also happened quickly but was enjoyable to read. There wasn’t much to like about the other characters. They were all just so greedy. Gatsby car for some reason felt like a character to me, maybe because it was in the book quite a bit. Something about it caught my attention. Maybe it was just that Gatsby and Nick were in there together. I really didn’t like the character Daisy though. She was very indecisive, and a horrible mother. She was so busy worry about what the the other adults in the book were doing and trying to benefit herself that she seemed to never think about her daughter once. Her daughter came to her once in the book and she just sent her away. That just made me want to have nothing to do with her and I didn’t see what Gatsby saw in her either. Overall the story was interesting and for the most part I enjoyed it, I also look forward to watching the movie. 

Quotes: 

“They looked back at me, remotely, possessed by intense life.”

Book Review of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

photo (32)Title: Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Published: Viking Penguin 2011
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 335
Source: Book Giveaway

Rating: ImageImage

From Goodreads:

 On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. 
Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.

My Review:  Originally when I first found out that I would be receiving Rules of Civility I was interested in it. I didn’t know much about it, but I thought the cover looked intriguing. It took awhile to arrive and when it did it sat on my shelf for a while. Since I barely knew anything about it, it wasn’t high priority. Then I heard it was like The Great Gatsby and I also wanted to read that on as well. So I thought what better time to read both of them then a read-a-thon!  Lets get to my feelings about this book. The main character Katey was really boring, I couldn’t relate to her at all. The only characters that I found interesting were Tinker and Evelyn, and their story with too short. I found the book hard to get through, and sometimes wanted to stop reading it all together. Although there were some small glimpses of enjoyment in this book, overall I didn’t like it.

Book Review of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

photo (31)Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: Washington Square Press on February 2005
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 423
Source: Gift

Rating: ImageImageImage 1/2 

From Goodreads:

 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 challenged…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? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

My Review:  I was given this book and started reading it right away. I hadn’t seen the movie and didn’t even know much about the book. It was the first book I read by Jodi Picoult. This was a slow read for me, the book seemed to drag on and on. Although I did like the story overall, I found that the way the book was written made it harder to read. Each chapter is a different character and there are a lot of characters. It wasn’t to hard to keep track of everything, it just slowed me down when reading and I got a bit distracted and didn’t want to keep reading at times. A lot of the time it felt like the story wasn’t progressing because they kept going back in time so often.

Quotes: 

“I’m very sorry about that, Judge,” he says. “Anything for a ten-minute break, right?”

“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect,” she says. “You love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”

Book Review of Eleven by Mark Watson

photo (33)Title: Eleven
Author: Mark Watson
Published: Scribner on May 2011
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 298
Source: Amazon.ca

Rating: ImageImageImageImage

From Goodreads:

Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering solace and redemption in the most unexpected places. British comedian Mark Watson’s North American debut humorously and poignantly explores life and death, strangers and friends, heartache and comfort, and whether the choices we don’t make affect us just as powerfully as the ones we do.

My Review:  This was another bargain book that i took a chance on and loved it. I really enjoyed seeing how everyone’s actions effected each other but it always went back to Xavier. This gives you lots to think about in your own life. My favorite character was Pippa. I thought she was funny, interesting and a hard worker. She was really good with Xavier and really helped him realized he needed to heal and move on from the past even though she didn’t know about what happened to him back in Australia. I think she could just sense there was something going on and even Murray said that Xavier was a changed man now that Pippa was around. I found some parts in the book funny but not to memorable, I thought Mark Watson being a comedian that the book would make me laugh out loud more.  I enjoyed listening to the people who called in to the radio show, the old ladies story was my favorite. Overall this was a touching story and a quick read.

Quotes:

“OK.Just tell me again, when did you come to the decision that you were going to sabotage your entire career?”
“Literally while I was taking a dump.”

Reading Group Guide (In back of the book): 

Q: In the sequence the begins with Xavier not helping Frankie Carstairs, which occurrence has the greatest impact on future events? Which characters had choices in the direction their lives tool which ones did not?

A: I think that the occurrence that has the greatest impact on future events was when Xavier went over to the teachers house to give him support. This saved the mans life and if he died it would have been the ultimate tragedy.  A character that had a choice in which direction his life could have gone would have been Julius. He didn’t need to rob anyone to get money for the gym, he should have just worked out at home/outside and found a new job. This would have saved a lot of people a lot of problems.

Book Review of The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

photo (30)Title: The Secret Lives of Dresses
Author: Erin McKean
Published: 5 Spot on February 2011
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 292
Source: Amazon.ca
Rating:  ImageImageImageImageImage

 From Goodreads:

Dora is in love with a man who barely notices her, has a job she doesn’t care about, and dresses entirely for comfort, not style. All a far cry from her vivid, eccentric childhood, growing up with her beloved grandmother Mimi.
However, when disaster strikes, Dora knows she has no choice but to return to her childhood home and take over running Mimi’s vintage clothing shop. And there she makes a surprising discovery – Mimi’s been writing stories to accompany every dress she sells. Romantic, heartbreaking tales about each one’s secret life before it got to her shop…
Dora starts to match make these lonely frocks with new owners, but will the stories help her as well? Trading her boring high street clothes for vintage glamour is one thing. What she needs to know is whether she can trade her safe old life – and love – for something better too?
My Review: I was hooked the moment I started reading this book. I will admit that I was spectacle at first of this book. I found it in the bargain books section at amazon.ca. I always check there before I place an order just in case there are any good deals I don’t want to miss out on. I found this gem for 4.90 in paperback so I decided to read what it was about. It sounded interesting and what caught my attention is that Dora has a close relationship with her Grandmother. This is something we have in common and a topic I enjoy in books. So I was sold even though I didn’t have any high exceptions for it. I didn’t particularity love the main character Dora but the other characters I thought were great. Like Conrad Murphy the Contractor, first of all how great is his name? I instantly developed a book crush on him. I really enjoyed his personality, I thought he was funny and charming. I admired the way he took care of Dora even though she really was just a stranger to him. Maux was fascinating as well. I would love to have a friend like that in real life. I thought the character Camille was nicely done, even though she inst supposed to be a well liked character I did enjoy reading the scenes with her because it really was quite comical and entertaining. I laughed out loud multiple times reading this book, it was a great joy to read. I would have to say that my favorite part of this book was the characters and there relationships with each other. The dress shop sounded like a great place to work almost as nice as an old book store. The “secret lives” aspect of the book I thought was interesting expect I didn’t enjoy all of the stories, just some of them. That was probably my least favorite part of the book. It was hard reading the last few pages because I really didn’t want it to end. I would love it if a sequel came out or even a movie.

Quotes:

“Did she burn down the garage?”

“Nah, there wasnt that much kerosene. I think she just figured that if she set something on fire she’d get a bunch of men there double-quick to take cafe of the snake clean up!” 

“Quick thinking!” 

 

 “You wrote this?” Con picked up the pages. He started reading. 

“Hey, stop” Dora said. “You only get the story if you buy the dress.”

“It won’t fit me,” Con said. “That’s not fair.” 

Reading Group Guide (In back of the book): 

Q: If the outfit you’re wearing right now were going to tell a story, what would it say? Do you have any items in your closet that would have interesting stories to share?

A: My outfit im wearing now is just my PJ’s and they were given to me for free so no story there but I can answer the next question. When I was in grade 9 I wanted this winter coat from a new clothing store that opened up in my small town. It was $60 so I couldn’t afford it on my own. I told my grandma all about it. I Told her it was light brown corduroy marital with faux caramel colored fur trim around the inside of the sleeves. It had large buttons going all the way up the front, the color of hazelnuts. Then the liner of the coat was a light material with a pattern of the tiniest pink flowers. She could tell how much I wanted this coat and she could also tell I had started up my nervous habit of biting my nails again. She said if I could stop biting my nails by a certain date I could have my coat. I did it and sure enough I got the coat and I was lucky because they only had one left in my size! I still have the coat now almost 10 years later and its still in great condition. I plan on keeping this coat forever because it reminds me of my grandma.

Q: Do you think its true that “the clothes make the man”? Why or why not? Would Dora’s perspective and goals have changed if she had continued to wear cargo pants and raggedy T-shirts?

A: I personally prefer to only wear clothes that I feel comfortable wearing. I feel very weird about wearing clothes that i feel dont like good on me regardless of what others think. I think if you feel confident in your outfit that that effects your confidence as a whole. I think that Dora would have chose to wear the dresses no matter what because she wanted to do it for Mimi and because Mimi would only want her running the store if she was well dressed. At first she didnt feel comfortable in the dresses but by the end she didn’t want to wear anything else. I think after time she figured out that they helped her grow into the women she wanted to be.

Q: Maux has a very flamboyant personal style; she never excuses the way shes loves to dress. Do you wear something you love everyday?

A: I liked to wear more neutral colors like brown, black and grey. I do like to add pops of color hear and there usually with accessories and sometimes shoes. I wouldnt say I love everything I wear but I like to be comfortable in the end.

Q: If Mimi hadnt fallen ill, do you think Dora would have learned about the secret lives or about her mother and father? What was Mimi waiting for?

A: I think Mimi wanted Dora to not have so many stories of her parents because she felt that Dora would miss them too much to more she knew. I dont think Dora would have found out about the secret lives but eventually I think she would have asked about her parents.

Q: Mimi spent a lot of time assembling Dora’s closet, yet Dora never wore anything from it. Why do you think each of them did this? Has anyone ever done you a favor so huge that it felt like an obligation?

A: I think that Mimi knew one day Dora would appropriate that clothes and want them. I think Dora wanted to find her style on her own and felt that Mimi was pushing her to wear the clothes so she went with the opposite.  My grandma also raised me and she spent all of her time teaching me about life. I feel obligated in a way to do the things she taught me the way she wants because she means so much to me and because she didn’t have to teach me anything yet she taught me everything. Sometimes its feels like I should just do it to honor all her hard work and to make her proud.  I think Dora felt the same way about the clothes, the shop and the secret lives.

Q: Con falls in love with an ideal of Dora (as put forth by Mimi) before ever meeting her. How do you think he would have felt if he’d met Dora at Lymond? Did Dora have an ideal of Gary in her mind, too?

A: If Con met Dora at Lymond I dont think things would have worked out because they really didn’t have anything in common when she was all about school. He had left his life to come back to the small town and when she did that too it became easier for a relationship to happen because they had more in common and they had a better chance at making a life together. The way that Dora felt about Gary confused me because it was obvious to me at least that he was using her. He never really showed that he cared about her, but in her mind they were going to be together. I just cant understand how she came to that conclusion. It just seemed like she was trying to force things in her new life at Lymond because nothing she did there felt right or made her happy.

Q: After many in-between relationships, Gabby ends up remarrying her first husband. Will it work out? Do you believe in giving second chances to relationships?

A: I think that the marriage will work because it was her first love and they found there way back to each other after all these years. I believe in giving second chances if you love the person and you can forgive them.

Q: Mimi’s family relationships are troubled: she was estranged from her son, distant from her half-brother, and even slightly removed from Dora at times. Why do you think Mimi held herself apart? Are any relationships in your life like this?

A: I think Mimi wanted to just let others make there own decisions because when ever she gave advice they didn’t seem to take it.  Most of the relationships in my life are like this but worse.

Q: Do you think Dora eventually would have come home even if Mimi hadnt fallen ill? What else might she have done instead?

A:I think that Dora would have came home eventually and worked in the shop because she would have realized its all she ever really wanted to do. She would keep feeling out of place at school and Gary would have never been interested in her because he was interested in everyone else.

Bout of Books 8.0 Wrap Up

It’s Monday! Bout of Books 8.0 is officially over. I hope everyone that has been looking at my blog has enjoyed all my posts and all my progress through out this read-a-thon. I had a great time reading, completing all the challenges and checking out other blogs and YouTube videos. So lets see how I did:

  1. I completed all of the challenges and you can find them all over my blog if your interested. My favorite challenge was I Spy. What was your favorite challenge that you completed or what was your favorite challenge that I did?
  2. My goal was to read 5 books and finish My Sister’s Keeper that I had been reading before Bout of Books started. I am very happy to say I finished all of them! WOO-HOO. So that is a total of 1429 pages read last week! Wow is all I can say, i’ve never done anything like that before. I wasn’t sure if It was possible to read so much but I did it and it wasn’t hard at all I was having so much fun and was really enjoying the stories.
  3. Will I participate in Bout of Books 9.0 January 6-12th? YES! I look forward to it and think its a great way to start the new year.
  4. Advice to people who want to try Bout of Books 9.0: Challenge yourself by picking 2-3 more books then you normally read a week. Get organized, map out what your going to read each day and use sticky tabs to mark the place you need to read to that day. This will help keep you motivated. Also keep updating your progress at the end of everyday, this also helps with motivation and is also great for you to look back and see what you’ve accomplished day to day not just as a whole.

I guess that’s all for now, check back frequently for the reviews of the books I read this week and also for my thoughts on the movie adaptions for a few of the books i read. If you have any questions please comment.

Next book im reading is The Forbidden Princess by Day Leclaire. Just a short romance to take a break from reading heavy topic books. photo (20)