Saturday, October 25, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: 1984

It’s time for another Six Degrees of Separation! Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme, hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman, which normally runs on the first Saturday of the month. But October has been a really busy month for me, so my blogging is way behind! Better late than never, though, right?

The main idea of this meme is to form a chain of books by linking something they have in common, kind of like forming a word ladder with common letters, and everyone begins their chains with the same book. Other than that, there are no set rules. You get to make your own!

This month, we are starting with 1984 by George Orwell. I haven’t read this one, but I have been planning to…..for a long, LONG time! I did start it once not too long ago, but I had a lot of review books to read, and the book was on reserve, so I didn’t get a chance to finish. I did read enough though to see how ‘Big Brother’ used technology to spy on every aspect of a citizen’s life.

I read Matched by Ally Condie shortly after it came out. One thing that immediately stood out for me was how the government monitored its citizens with video and other technology. There were no secrets from the government. Even though I hadn’t yet read 1984, I recognized the connection!

Reached is the final book in the Matched series, obviously written by the same author, Ally Condie. I loved Matched enough to read the entire series and enjoyed the first two books. Unfortunately, Reached fell flat for me and left me feeling cheated after investing so much time into reading the series.

From Reached I am moving to Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent series. As with the Matched series, I really enjoyed the first two books of the Divergent series, but Allegiant was a major disappointment to me. And not just because of the ending, which I really didn’t mind, but the whole premise annoyed me!

One thing I really liked about the Divergent  series is the setting, post-apocalyptic Chicago. If you are familiar with Chicago, it was easy to recognize the landmarks described in the book. Another book set in Chicago, and dark in its own way, is The Devil In The White City by Eric Larson. But unlike the Divergent  series , this one is set in the past, about 120 years ago during the Columbian Exhibition, or the Chicago Worlds Fair. This is a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, and I really enjoyed learning the history of the Fair construction and architectural developments.

Another non-fiction book I enjoyed, set just a few years later, is The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice. While a Worlds Fair is not the central event of the book, there is a Worlds Fair connection. Members of the Igorrote tribe of the Philippines appeared as human exhibits at the St. Louis Worlds Fair, and at various amusement parks, including the Coney Island parks.

One event mentioned in The Lost Tribe of Coney Island is the electrocution of Topsy the elephant. Topsy was an elephant with a bad reputation who had killed both handlers and spectators (probably not without cause!) When her owners were no longer willing to keep her and could not find anyone else to take her, they opted to euthanize her by electrocution! This event is also mentioned in Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, Leaving Time.

So there it chain. From 1984 by George Orwell to Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult; Big Brother to ‘big beast’!

Your turn! Want to play along? Just post your chain on your blog and then post a link on either Annabel’s or Emma’s monthly post. Or if you aren’t a blogger, just post your chain in the comments section.  And if you post your link here, I’ll be sure to take a look!
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Leaving Time

Leaving TIme
by Jodi Picoult

Why did you choose this book? It was a gift because I read everything Jodi
When did you read this book? September 2014
Who should read this book? Jodi Picoult fans
Source: ARC from a friend
Here is a synopsis of Leaving Time from Goodreads

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

My Review

I have read at least a dozen Jodi Picoult novels, with mixed results. By ‘mixed results’ I don’t mean that some I enjoyed and others I did not, but instead that some are good and others are fantastic. This one is fantastic! This story is a little different than most of her novels in that it doesn’t center around a controversial choice to be made. This novel is more a murder-mystery, and there is definitely a twist at the end. The story includes a detective, a psychic, and a ten year old mystery to be solved; i.e. what happened to Jenna’s mom? Of course, with a psychic involved in the story, you do have to be willing to suspend your disbelief, much like Jenna and the detective, Virgil, because there are some supernatural events taking place.

The mystery was a real page turner, especially near the end of the book when everything came to a head! I could hardly stop reading! With Jodi Picoult, often it is the ending of the story that determines my experience with the book; whether the read was good or very good. In this case, even though the ending left me a little sad, I thought it was resolved very nicely.

But what really stuck with me during this book were the elephants! Jenna’s parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Jersey. They met in Africa, where her mother was studying grief in elephants and her father was gathering information to help him in running his sanctuary in the US. The descriptions of the elephants as they interact with each other and with their human care-takers really connected with me. The way the elephants were described as swaying together reminded me of elephant actions I’ve seen at the zoo. It is apparent that the author did detailed research while writing this book! The book inspired me to read more about elephants. They are amazing animals!

You can read more about Jodi Picoult and the research she did in writing this book on her website, where you can also find an excerpt of the book and discussion questions. And if you want to learn more about elephants, visit the website of The Elephant Sanctuary, one of the sites visited by Jenna in the novel, where you can view videos of the elephants at play.

Here is a sample.

My Rating:  
★★★★1/2   4-1/2 Stars
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl On The Train

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating!

The Girl On The Train
by Paula Hawkins
Expected Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself—a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names—she has learned from the news—are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

Why I am waiting....
I heard about this one at a recent library presentation. It sounds like a real page-turner!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Memes: Lost and Found

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting Lost and Found by Brooke Davis.

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house – or spoken to another human being – since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife's skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.

A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life.(

Opening Paragraph
    Millie’s dog, Rambo, was her Very First Dead Thing. She found him by the side of the road on a morning when the sky seemed to be falling, fog circling his broken shape like a ghost. His jaw and eyes were wide open, as if mid-bark. His left hind leg pointed in a direction it normally didn’t. The fog lifted around them, the clouds gathered in the sky, and she wondered if he was turning into rain.

    It was only when she dragged Rambo up to the house in her schoolbag that her mother thought to tell her how the world worked.

    He’s gone to a better place, her mother shouted at her while vacuuming the lounge room.

My Teaser

    And when the afternoon becomes night, and the last door is clicked shut, and everything goes black — the air, the sound, the earth — it feels like the whole world is closing. She presses her face against the window, cups her hands around her eyes, and watches people walk back to their cars with other people, with husbands and wives and girlfriends and boyfriends and children and grandmothers and daughters and fathers and mothers.
page 18 or 315

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!
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