Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 2

Comments: 1

Book Notes: Dear Zoe by Philip Beard

by Ann-Katrina

dear-zoe-cover I’m about halfway through Dear Zoe by Philip Beard. It’s been on my TBR pile for a few years, ever since I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Yes, there’s a connection between the two. It’s the blurb on the front cover which prompted me to pick up the title in the first place:

Like The Lovely Bones, it is a piercing look at how a family recovers from a devastating loss. Everything about this moving, powerful debut rings true.” –Booklist

There was something haunting about The Lovely Bones. It was a powerful and gripping book, and one I’ve not been able to read twice. Each time I see the cover, I get a chill and a memory of what’s within its covers drifts through me and I have to put it back down.

Like The Lovely Bones, Dear Zoe is an emotionally gripping book. It’s told as a series of letters to Zoe written by Tess, Zoe’s older half-sister. Through these letters we can see how Tess is dealing with the loss of Zoe, along with how her shattered family (mother, step father, and other half-sister) are dealing as well.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve shed more than a few tears as I read a few striking passages. For instance:

Even though it’s been almost a year, sometimes I still miss you so much it feels like someone is pushing their finger into the base of my throat and I cry like it just happened yesterday. But now when I cry like that it kind of feels like it cleans me out, and each time it happens it feels like I’m going to have a little longer until it happens again and usually I do. It’s not that I’m missing you less. It’s more like I’m finding a place to keep you.

Anyone who’s experienced loss on a profound level can certainly relate to the emotions painted on these pages.

Unlike The Lovely Bones, however, Dear Zoe doesn’t seem too disturbing. Without giving out any spoilers for TLB, there was an aspect to that novel that just made me want to vomit as it unfolded. I don’t get that same feeling with Dear Zoe, though there is a twist to the day Zoe died and it’s a day that is certain to incite or touch a nerve with many people. Up to this point, the day has been downplayed, which I believe works well for the story; it doesn’t gouge at any old wounds.

I should be finished within the next couple of days so I’ll be able to give the book a proper review.

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March 19

Comments: 5

Review: Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina


Back Cover of Boy Meets Girl

Meet Kate Mackenzie. She:

  • works for the T.O.D. (short for Tyrannical Office Despot, also known as Amy Jenkins, Director of the Human Resources Division at the New York Journal)
  • is sleeping on the couch because her boyfriend of ten years refuses to commit
  • can’t find an affordable studio apartment anywhere in New York City
  • thinks things can’t get any worse.

They can. Because:

  • the T.O.D. is making her fire the most popular employee in the paper’s senior staff dining room
  • that employee is now suing Kate for wrongful termination, and
  • now Kate has to give a deposition in front of Mitch Hertzog, the scion of one of Manhattan’s wealthiest law families, who embraces everything Kate most despises…but also happens to have a nice smile and a killer bod.

The last thing anybody–least of all Kate Mackenzie–expects to find in a legal arbitration is love. But that’s the kidno f thing that can happen when…BOY MEETS GIRL.

Three Quick Points About Boy Meets Girl

  • Point 1: Voyeurism on a whole new level. The entire story unfolds via correspondence such as office emails, forms, IMs, phone messages, lists, and journal entries. Very clever.
  • Point 2: Where’d the time go? Since the story unfolds via correspondence, it’s difficult (if not completely impossible) to track how much time has passed. That also contributes to the disingenuous evolution of Kate and Mitch’s relationship.
  • Point 3: Predictable ending with a nifty twist. This being the type of book that it is, it won’t be a surprise that girl ends up with prince charming, but it’s the twist at the end that makes it worthwhile.

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February 2

Comments: 7

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

by Ann-Katrina

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Back Cover of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Tales of the Jazz Age

Fitzgerald’s talent for short fiction is on display in this selection of four of his finest tales, chosen from two collections: Flappers and Philosophers (1920) and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922). Included are “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a fantasy whose protagonist is born an old man and ages in reverse; “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” a coming-of-age story about a daring young flapper; “The Jelly-Bean,” a story of disillusionment and love lost; and “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong,” a case of a character torn between self and society.

Three Quick Points About The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Tales of the Jazz Age

  • Point 1: Another era. Not gonna lie, Fitzgerald’s language caught me off guard a couple of times, but it certainly reminded that he was writing in another era.
  • Point 2: Life can be frustrating. It seems that your time line doesn’t matter, you’ll still come up against obstacles; they’ll only be slightly different.
  • Point 3: Sad. That’s what I felt when the story of Benjamin Button ended.

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November 10

Comments: 5

Review: Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

by Ann-Katrina

Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott - Book Cover

Back Cover of Dating da Vinci

A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go…

His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise’s English class, he’s a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America—but he’s lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English…

She knows she shouldn’t take him home…

Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can’t help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her “Mona Lisa” she just about loses her heart…

Three Quick Points About Dating da Vinci

  • Point 1: Leonardo da Vinci is hot. Really hot. I have to admit that his character was well-crafted to make the ladies (and possibly some men) drool. Drool like a rabid mangy mongrel and make no apologies for it. Up until he peed the bed.
  • Point 2: Unfortunately, the remaining characters (except a few) had trouble finding their voices. For the most part, they’d be traveling along quite nicely when a piece of stray dialog that rang absolutely false for the character would present itself.
  • Point 3: Feel good at its finest. Despite the ending being highly predictable, it still elicits that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

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September 27

Comments: 4

Review: Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

by Ann-Katrina

Can You Keep a Secret? Cover

From the Back Cover of Can You Keep a Secret?

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

Secrets from her mother:
I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world:
I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger…. Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

Three Quick Points About Can You Keep a Secret?

  • Point 1: Emma Corrigan bears a striking resemblance to Bridget Jones–not necessarily in appearance, but personality, deed and sheer life circumstances.
  • Point 2: This book redefines the statement laugh out loud funny. From beginning to end, I found myself pausing to have a good belly laugh at some of the antics and situations in which Emma found herself.
  • Point 3: The British quips and expressions were rather charming from my Americanized viewpoint. Although I’m still not entirely certain what a jumper is, am still unsure whether snogging is kissing or having sex, and it took me a few pages to recognize that having a row meant having an argument, I found reading through it all added to the amusement.

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