Tag Archives: jodi picoult

@readathon prep: the stack!

Oh my goodness, I feel like this has been the most productive week in my book blogging life! I published three reviews today – all three books I’ve read this year! That seems like a lot but I wrote one review of a book I read at the beginning of the year, the second review I modified from a review on my primary blog (kristaonpurpose), and the third I reviewed as soon as I finished the last page.


(Ok, total rabbit trail but it makes me both smile and cringe that hashtagging in blog posts is a real thing.)

A couple of days ago I did a “how am I prepping?” post for the 24 Hour Readathon that’s taking this place. I’m just popping in with an updated!

I will for sure be at my parents’ house! With internet access besides my phone! Granted, I have my ten-year-old sister and two of her little buddies who are spending the night, plus three nutso dogs, to content with, but where there is a will there is a way.

I think this is pretty much the same. Yes to twitter, blogging, and instagram. Very limited to facebook and texting.

And now… drum roll… the reason why we do the readathon…

BOOKS! (books are below after lots of boring, mathy analysis)
I’ve been so excited to pick out what books I want to set aside for this, my very first, complete readathon, but I’m dog sitting and trying to be careful with how much I spend on gas so I forced myself to wait until tonight, when I had a class near my house, to pick out my books. Here’s what I’m aiming for. I am not a fast reader, just a consistent one. That said, I don’t anticipate finishing all six of the books below. Two, maybe three if all goes well.

What are my books, you ask? Here you go!
IMG_1951The end. Haha, just kidding! A little about the books before I go. I don’t want to hurt their feelings!IMG_1958This picture is terrible but my phone and computer weren’t playing nicely. I have never read The Phantom Tollbooth but have always wanted to so here I go! I thought this would be a fun, more simple read since it’s geared toward a younger audience. (Not that I think that means it’s easy – just a good change of pace!)

From GoodReads:

Milo mopes in black ink sketches, until he assembles a tollbooth and drives through. He jumps to the island of Conclusions. But brothers King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis war over words and numbers. Joined by ticking watchdog Tock and adult-size Humbug, Milo rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason, and learns to enjoy life.

IMG_1946Saw Girls in White Dresses while doing my daily browse in the Paperback Store part of Barnes & Noble’s website. Into my cart it went, and into my reading pile it is.

From GoodReads:

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

IMG_1947It’s like they picked the most heart-breaking cover possible for Unsaid and placed it strategically at Target where they knew I’d see it. And since I can’t ever unsee it, I’ll read it.

From GoodReads:

As a veterinarian, Helena had mercifully escorted thousands of animals to the other side. Now, having died herself, she finds that it is not so easy to move on. She is terrified that her 37 years of life were meaningless, error-ridden, and forgettable. So Helena haunts– and is haunted by– the life she left behind. Meanwhile, David, her shattered attorney husband, struggles with grief and the demands of caring for her houseful of damaged and beloved animals. But it is her absence from her last project, Cindy– a chimpanzee who may unlock the mystery of communication and consciousness– that will have the greatest impact on all of them.

When Cindy is scheduled for a research experiment that will undoubtedly take her life, David must call upon everything he has learned from Helena to save her. In the explosive courtroom drama that follows, all the threads of Helena’s life entwine and tear as Helena and David confront their mistakes, grief, and loss, and discover the only way to save Cindy is to understand what it really means to be human.

IMG_1948I am a giant fan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I bought Joy in the Morning not long after I finished it. For the last week I’ve been calling this ATGIB‘s sequel, but it’s not – it’s a book independent of the other’s plot. I’m really excited to make good headway into it this weekend!

From GoodReads:

In Brooklyn, New York, in 1927, Carl Brown and Annie McGairy meet and fall in love. Though only eighteen, Annie travels alone to the Midwestern university where Carl is studying law to marry him. Little did they know how difficult their first year of marriage would be, in a faraway place with little money and few friends. But Carl and Annie come to realize that the struggles and uncertainty of poverty and hardship can be overcome by the strength of a loving, loyal relationship.

IMG_1949I am a huge Flannery O’Connor fan and this collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, has two of my favorites: the title story and “The River.” All so sad, which is kind of why I love her writing.

From GoodReads:

This now-classic book revealed Flannery O’Connor to be one of the most original and provocative writers to emerge from the South. Her apocalyptic vision of life is expressed through grotesque, often comic, situations in which the principal character faces a problem of salvation: the grandmother, in the title story, confronting the murderous Misfit; a neglected four-year-old boy looking for the Kingdom of Christ in the fast-flowing waters of the river; General Sash, about to meet the final enemy.
IMG_1950I’ll probably try to make Firefly Lane my first read because it’s the longest and Picoult’s writing is beautiful but tends to change POVs often so I’ll need fresh eyes and a rested brain to keep track of what I’m reading! There’s a sequel to this that I accidentally bought, not knowing it had a book before it, and I have purposefully waited to read it until reading this first. So here I go!
From GoodReads:
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

There you go! That’s my pile. Comment so I can check out yours!


I’ll be going shopping for snacks soon (probably Wednesday), so expect that awesome update!



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Book Review: The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult

Oh man. It’s been almost a year since I’ve reviewed a book, but man… I’m missing out on it! So, without further adieu, here I am – reviewing with no strings attached!

The StorytellerJodi Picoult has been one of my favorite authors since I first read My Sister’s Keeper years ago. Her last few books, however, have been too predictable for me. Last year, when I reviewed Lone Wolf, I wrote “This is a pretty average novel… the relationships between everyone didn’t stand out to me in any special way… this book tends to fall into Picoult’s usual plot formula.” Likewise, when I reviewed Sing You Home in 2011, I noted something similar: “[H]er books are becoming somewhat predictable. The plots are certainly still intriguing, but the execution is pretty mundane and predictable. Sadly, Sing You Home, the story of a couple broken up by Zoe’s desire to have a baby, and Max’s heartbreak at tying again, falls into this disappointing “predictable” category.” When I preordered The Storyteller, I was expecting the same predictability but…

I could not have been MORE surprised.

The plot of The Storyteller is one of Picoult’s classic hot-topic, controversial nail-biters. Goodreads describes the plot:

Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?

It’s not a well-known fact, but in middle school and early in high school I was obsessed with books about the Holocaust. I think it’s because I was deeply interested in knowing the roots of my maternal great-grandparents, both of whom came from Germany or whose parents came to the US from Germany. Less than 100 years ago, part of my ancestors lived in a country so torn by genocide. I believe this is why such a deeply ugly time in human history has fascinated me – because it’s my family’s history. That said, I knew right away that this Picoult book had a plot that would intrigue me, and it absolutely did. I quite literally could not put The Storyteller down.

The structure, while similar to most of Picoult’s book in that it alternates between the points of view of several characters, is unique in its middle portion. For a large period of time, the POV shifts to Sage’s grandmother and her story of living in the ghetto simply because she was born into a Jewish family. I stayed up late into the night reading this section, weeping as I turned the pages. I think it’s easy to cry over stories that detail the horrors of the Holocaust, but because of how realistically Minka (Sage’s grandmother) is depicted, the pain on these pages takes on new life and meaning. Woven in with her story was the allegorical tale of a vampire, which takes on new meaning in light of Minka’s story (and Joseph’s story).

Minka is not the only character who seems very real and alive. Picoult creates characters who are human and flawed, yet compelling and likeable – even the former Nazi Joseph. You find his acts deplorable, but you see a man who is seeking absolution and you can’t help but be drawn toward him. Even Sage, with her scarred face and sullen spirit, grows on you and you root for her. I felt like the characters in The Storyteller were real and my friends, which I don’t always feel as I read. Having characters this strong helps when writing a book about such a difficult subject, and in this case aids in having a compelling plot.

One last comment: twisty plots and surprise endings are Picoult’s calling card, and the plot twist at the end of this novel… OH BOY. I did not see it coming, and my jaw literally dropped. I had to reread to make sure I read right the first time. That, plus Minka’s story, were totally worth the read!

I absolutely loved this book. It’s Picoult at her best, and I would recommend it to anyone, even those who don’t normally read her work.

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