Book Review: World War Z

I’m am not typically drawn to sci-fi and I haven’t jumped on the Walking Dead craze, but something about the way World War Z was presented made me want to read it. This a-typical foray into zombie land, did not disappoint.

World War Z by Max Brooks is instantly intriguing as it reads more of a historical fiction novel than sci-fi. Brooks wrote the book from the point of view of zombie apocalypse survivors, each telling accounts of what they saw and how they were affected. I think this helped to keep the gore to a bare minimum and the literary quality high, which one would not expect from this genre.

While I hope we all realize that the threat of a virus that “reanimates” the dead is far-fetched, the idea of a super virus is not, and it was interesting to consider that a similar situation could occur. Some of the scenarios really had me thinking about “what-if”, which again proves how well done it is, as this plot could have gone completely juvenile.

World War Z  while written well, was still a fairly easy and enjoyable read. I would recommend it to anyone, as I think you will be surprised how much you actually like something that you typically may not think to try.

I’m giving Max Brooks’ World War Z a solid 4 out of 5.




Book Review: Russian Winter

Maybe I’m the only one, but due to my inability (read lack of talent!) to pursue dancing myself, I am mesmerized by those who can do so, especially ballerinas. I recently watched Misty Copeland’s A Ballerina’s Tale and follow all the major ballet companies on Instagram to gush over each dancer’s grace and artistry. So it comes as no surprise that I found myself reading a book about  a Russian ballerina.

Daphne Kalotay’s debut novel Russian Winter focuses on both the past and present of Nina Revskaya. When we first meet Nina she is hunched and aging, being tended to by a visiting nurse as she passes her days in a wheelchair in her apartment overlooking the Boston Public Gardens. Nina has decided that it is time to start letting go of her belongings as her condition worsens and begins working with a young auctioneer named Drew to sell off her much heralded jewelry collection. As a former world renowned ballerina, she has come to acquire some truly magnificent pieces, especially a unique amber set that survived her defection from Stalin-era Russia.

Through her own flashbacks and that of an oddly intertwined character by the name of Grigori Solodin, we come to find out these amber pieces have quite the story to tell. The book switches between the past and present to lead you to the true meaning behind the jewelry . This is done somewhat jerkily, with not much of a proper transition between  the two worlds. While a bit irritating, I found myself getting use to this somewhere in the middle of the book. The book did do a nice job though of intertwining history, romance, and other themes quite well.

While overall I did enjoy this book, be prepared. The ending is not what you will be looking for. At least for me it wasn’t. Not that there is a twist, but rather a lack of an actual ending at all. This book could have gotten  a better rating from me if it didn’t just… stop. No cliffhanger, just , the end. If this book would have given me five more pages, It would have gotten a full 4 out of 5. But, 3 1/2 stars it is because a great story was killed by the author’s inability to round out her book with a strong ending.

Lenten Reading Round Up!

Well Lent has come and went once again (Happy early Easter everyone!). For those of you who don’t remember, instead of giving something up, which I always fail horribly at, I pledged to do more of the things that make me happy, less stressed, and a more loving person who puts positive energy into the universe. The top three were read more, write more, and exercise more.

As you can tell by my absence, I didn’t quite succeed at writing more and the empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s in my trash can is a clear sign of my dedication to fitness…

But! Lucky for you I did read quite a bit, finishing 3.5 books over the last 40ish days.  So on that note, let me give my two sense on each (besides the 1/2 book which was London, which you already heard about…I hope.. please read my blog…please?).

The first book I finished was Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight. You have probably never heard of this book, because it is not on any list that I know of, but it was received as a gift and had baked goods in pretty pastel colors on the front;right up my alley! Actually, I was a little concerned of what I was getting myself into as this is published by Harlequin Press, which has a reputation for Fabio-esque romance novels.

Since You’ve Been Gone did have its  “over the top imagery” moments, if you will, but it was not the whole focus of the book, so I was still able to enjoy it. The main character, Holly, is in a rut, or bit of melancholia really, after the sudden loss of her husband. Putting her focus into her business, a cake shop, she lives day to day rather than in the moment. That is until she starts receiving orders from one particular client who time will tell if he is trouble or a tasty treat.

Since You’ve Been Gone is nothing spectacular. Its plot line is a simple as it seems: Girl looses boy, girl meets boy, silliness ensues, and then… well I don’t want to ruin the ending or anything, but I think we all know there isn’t any plot twists here. If you need something light and fun, and you’re low on cash (you will probably find this one in the bargain section), then you will thoroughly enjoy. Overall, given the genre, I give it 4 out 5 stars.


The second book I finished was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Another gift, but this one I though looked a little more promising. It is touted as a thriller, with the cover of my copy quoting Stephen King saying, “The #1 book of 2009…Several sleepless nights guaranteed.” With that sort of recommendation I was ready for some Gone Girl-esque suspense.

The Little Stranger focuses on the remaining residents of Hundreds Hall, a once vibrant Victorian edifice, that is quite literally sinking into the ground in the Post-War era. The widowed Mrs. Ayres and her adult children, Caroline and Roderick still live on the estate, hanging on to a lifestyle and a status that has long gone by.

After a chance encounter with the simpleton Dr. Faraday, the family takes him in as a friend and he becomes attune to the fact that something within not just the Ayres’s home, but the family members themselves, has gone amiss. Are they cursed, haunted, or simply going mad after remaining stagnant for so long? That is the mystery posed.

However, this mystery is not at all that thrilling, and actually turns out rather predictable and dull. Certainly not as chilling or gripping as a Stephen King novel. The writing was well done and helped progress the novel forward, but was not a page turner due to its mystery.

I did enjoy The Little Stranger, but was disappointed. But for those who like a period piece, this was Ms. Havisham meets Downton Abbey, then you might enjoy it. I’m giving this a 3 out of 5 stars.


The final book I read is the showstopper! Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is the true history of how the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair came to be and the sub-story about the terrifying serial killer that lived there under the radar. Reader’s will follow architectural mastermind Daniel Burnham as he struggles to out do Paris in the building of the World’s Columbian Exposition, with far less time and far less resources. One of the biggest concerns is what can be built that can surpass Eiffel’s tower?

Flip over to the story’s other mastermind, this one criminal, who has many aliases but is most accurately known as Dr. H.H. Holmes. With an “entrepreneurial spirit” Holmes comes to the World’s Fair to create several shell companies which will help him hide his true identity and his true intentions. With his sparkling blue eyes and school boy charm, how could anyone accuse him of being a ruthless psychopath?

Larson does a fabulous job of telling both sides to this story which reads like fiction but is amazingly a great piece of history. Even those that do not tend to stray from fiction should give this book a try. It is flawless in its ability to captivate the reader and send a chill down your spine! I am very interested in reading Larson’s other works, especially In the Garden of Beasts.

If that review still doesn’t have you running out to by this book, also take into account that you might want to read this before Leo takes to the screen as Holmes. No release date has been set, but he and Scorsese are diligently at work!

Obviously giving this a 5 out of 5 stars!

So Happy Easter everyone, and happy reading!







Book Review: Poor Little Bitch Girl

It’s summer. So, you will have to forgive me for reading something so devoid of quality or sustenance. And, also please for give me, because I most definitely judged this book by its cover. It was flashy and pink, and girly all over. Such is the only explanation I can give for reading Jackie Collins’ Poor Little Bitch Girl.

Poor Little Bitch Girl is apparently #9 in the Lucky Santangelo series.  Lucky is the female equivalent of Steve Wynn, being the posh owner of one of the hottest hotels on the Vegas Strip. In this book she is more of a minor character to her son Bobby and his friends. The book takes on the point of view of a circle of characters who are all joined together in some way by the murder of the movie star Gemma Summer Maestro.

There is Annabelle, Gemma’s daughter, who unable to make a name for herself while living in her parent’s shadows (her father is the hot shot  director Ralph Maestro and also suspect numero uno in the murder of his wife), has moved to New York and is secretly running a high class escort service with her coked-out boyfriend.

Denver, is a sassy Hollywood lawyer handling the defense for Mr. Maestro. She is usually laser-focused on her career, but this case finds her in situations which will pull her in a more playful and certainly sexier direction.

In Washington, Carolyn struggles with the ups and downs of being a mistress to a congressman, but hopes that she will become his number one after he learns she’s pregnant. She can’t wait to tell her best friend, Denver!

And, Bobby. The son of the famous Lucky Santangelo, who finds himself somehow in the middle of this whole mess, just by loose friendships he holds with the girls and Annabelle’s boyfriend.

The whole crew comes together for a giddy romp of a book, with vulgarity and overtly sexual scenes sprinkled throughout for just the right amount of trash. If you are a wordsmith, Collins does find the need to throw in cumbersome vocabulary every so often just to make it appear that this book is of any decency or literary prowess. It in fact is expertly void of both of these things, but does not lack in the entertainment level  of perhaps your favorite Hollywood tabloid, which makes the book very hard to put down.

Overall if you are looking for a light, smutty, pink and flashy, girly novel, this one is for you! I give it 31/2 out of 5. Happy Reading!



Book Review: Lucky

Well hello there inter-webbians!

It’s practically summertime and you’ll know what that means… all the good TV shows have wrapped!

But don’t  be discouraged! This is a huge positive (well, if you like reading my blog it is), because this means I am bored and looking for something to occupy myself with, AKA me writing more.

This also gives me time to read more, hence this post.

Like any good book junkie, I was in the middle of reading Memoirs of a Geisha (stay tuned for a future review!), when I happened upon a used book sale. Among the goodies I picked up was Lucky by Alice Sebold. Sebold may be best known for her novel, The Lovely Bones, which was turned into a 2009 movie featuring Mark Whalburg and Stanley Tucci. Lucky is her earlier written memoir detailing the events of her own rape and its after effects on her life, especially during her years at Syracuse University, where on the eve of the last day of classes, she was victimized.

As with The Lovely Bones, which follows an all-American family as they struggle through the events of their daughter’s kidnapping, Lucky, entwines the dark and light aspects of the case, with finesse. While rape is not something that anyone would associate with the word “beautiful”, Sebold manages to write the chilling details of her victimization, beautifully. The acts that are forced upon her are crushing and gruesome, but her personal storytelling of the ordeal is almost poetic. This quality comes about because this is not a fantasized, Hollywood version of sexual assault, but a deeply emotional journey that Sebold relives as she writes.

The after effects of the assault on her life are strangely captivating, especially if you have ever been a naïve, nubile college female (i.e. me), because you can picture yourself in her shoes, but then cannot imagine actually having to live it, instead of the freedom and fun that you may remember.

As a semi-aspiring writer, this is the sort of writing I hope I can grow up to write. Sebold is able to take a nightmare of a subject and write it in a smooth, engaging, yet still gripping, fashion.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to college-age women, as it opens their eyes to situations that they could easily be put in. Overall I give this book a 5 out of 5.


Book Review: The Way Life Should Be

I finished reading Game of Thrones, but I figured I wouldn’t bore anyone with that review. Great book, but by now everyone but me has seen the show and can kind of get the gist of it; gore, sex, gore, gore, sex. So after that nice dark slice of drama I figure it was best off to read something a bit more lighthearted.

The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline follows the life of Angela, a misfit of a character who hasn’t quite found her place in the world, even though she is in her early 30’s. Living in New York and working as an event planner, a career she never intended on to begin with, she longs for the quiet coastal life of Maine. She has never  been to Maine, but she just knows that it must be as idealistically rustic and full of cookie cutter cottages, as the photo she keeps tacked by her desk.

Encouraged by her footloose and fancy free friend, Lindsey, to begin online dating, Angela goes out on a limb and goes in search of her “Maine Catch.” After just one date with the seemingly perfect Richard, Angela is smitten. After things take a turn for the worst at work, Angela risks it all to follow Richard to Mount Desert Island.

The journey that reader’s will follow Angela on is a quirky one, filled with a host of new friends that each are on their own journey. Through cooking classes inspired by Angela’s Italian Nonna, they will all come together to help Angela (and themselves) find a purpose.

While certainly not a Pulitzer Prize winner, The Way Life Should Be is a delightful rom-com for anyone who loves food or New England.  Overall I give it 3 1/2 stars.


Book Reviews!

Before I start another book, I figured it was time to catch up on my reviews of the two books that I recently finished.

The first, is Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand.

In Barefoot, the summer has just begun as Josh watches three women descending from the steps of an airplane on the tarmac at the Nantucket airport. He doesn’t know what it is, but the ever inquisitive Josh, feels like there is a story to be found within these three women. First there is Vicki, the reason the women are all really there in the first place. A young mom of two boys, Vicki has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and this summer she has decided, along with her sister and best friend, to get away from it all (although the kids are in tow!) and try and heal herself, by getting a little Nantucket sand between her toes at her late aunt’s beach house. Brenda, has come along to support her sister, but she is also in need of an escape from some demons of her own. And Melanie, Vicki’s best friend, is finding it hard to focus on her friend as she deals with the emotions of being cheated on by her husband in the midst of finding out she is pregnant.

Josh has no understanding of the tangled web he is entering  when by a strange array of events, he takes on the duty of babysitter to Vicki’s boys for the summer. He quickly realizes that he is not to be disappointed and that there may be more of a story behind these women than he could have even imagined.

The book touches on each individuals’ stories and makes you really feel at times for the problems they face. Parts of the story are slightly overdone and a little cheesy, but that can be expected from a book that screams beach read. However, this is not at all your typical beach read, with characters who are much more developed and in depth than is often associated with the genre.

Overall I am so glad a friend recommended this one to me and I give it 4 stars! I am actually very much looking forward to reading more of Hilderbrand’s books.


The second book that I recently finished is Delicious! by Ruth Reichl. Let me just say, the title speaks for itself! This book, though it starts of unassuming and pretty basic, turns into a juicy, flavorful romp of mystery, history, love, and of course food.

Billie Breslin has just moved to New York to be an editor’s assistant at the mecca of food magazine’s, Delicious!. On her own for the first time, Billie starts off nervous and unsure of the big city and her new job, especially when right off the bat, her boss expects her to cook for him. She is also put to the test when she it thrown out on a quest to receive a specific ingredient for the executive food editor. But, both these obstacles are just her initiation into what will become the most memorable experience of not only Billie’s career, but her life.

The adventure does not begin though, until Billie is left behind as the only remaining employee of Delicious!, when the magazine unexpectedly folds. Billie has the Timbers Mansion, the publications defunct headquarters, all to herself as she is kept on to take questions and complaints from readers. In her free time, Billie decides to explore the mansion’s library which was once used to catalog past issues of the magazine as well serve home to a myriad of reference texts and cookbooks, but has been locked up since the late 80’s.  While exploring, Billie comes across a secret that will lead her on a treasure hunt of sorts.

Billie’s hunt to uncover the mysteries of the library, which happen to involve the famous American chef James Beard, will delight you as you flip the pages in dire need to see where the journey will take her. While the book is a work of fiction as clearly stated by the author, it is easy to get lost in the idea that James Beard was actually a part of this grand mystery.

I had not heard of this book until it was sent to me by my mother, but it turned out to be a true gem! I give it 5 stars. A light-hearted read  with just the right amount of suspense, and a dash of food whimsy.

Happy reading everyone!

I am tackling my first Stephen King novel next! Hopefully Mr. Mercedes won’t frighten me too much!