Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Publisher: Harper
Released: 2013
Pages: 337
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Reconstructing Amelia is an amazing debut novel. I had only heard good things about this book, but kept an open mind going in. A lot of times young adult books are hit or miss with me. I really needed something entirely different from my previous read, otherwise I would surely be disappointed in my next read. It’s really hard to pick up a new book when the one you finished was so good. Immediately, Reconstructing Amelia grabbed my attention and demanded that I pick up the book every chance I got. So,  let’s dive in and let me explain a bit about this one:

Kate Baron, a single mother with a very demanding job juggles her time between work and her teenage daughter. All her life her parents instilled in her a sense of career and focus.  As a partner in a law firm, Kate has had to put in long hours and Amelia seemed to mostly understand and accept that Kate works very hard for all that they have.  Amelia is an excellent student and well-rounded teenager. However, her daughter Amelia has been asking a lot of questions about her father, asking to spend a semester in Paris and she seems distant. Kate knows something is going on with her. When Kate receives a phone call that her daughter was caught cheating, Kate knows that’s not true because her daughter would never cheat. Despite her hectic schedule, she knows her daughter and knows how important academia is to Amelia. When Kate gets to the school and realizes there’s police and an ambulance, she begins to wonder what is going on. Kate unfortunately learns that her daughter jumped from the roof and committed suicide. Kate knows her daughter didn't cheat, didn't jump and when she starts to receive anonymous text messages that tell her Amelia didn't jump, Kate starts digging into Amelia life. It seems like everyone has a secret to uncover.

As a new parent it was hard to read about Kate’s grief, and knowing that her only daughter was gone forever. Once she starts getting deeper into Amelia’s life, readers really want to know what happened. There are quite a few twists at the end that I didn't see coming. The book mostly takes place in present day, but we do get some flashbacks of Kate as a young mom. Amelia’s narrative is interwoven throughout the story explaining her months beforehand.  Her life really started to spiral out of control with bullying, hazing, questions about her own sexuality, difficult friendships and school pressure. Reconstructing Amelia is a multi-layered novel that is sure to capture your attention, and leave you recommending it to others. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: The House of Riverton by Kate Morton

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Published: 2009
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I started The House of Riverton while going through a major reading slump, and decided to pick this one up. Kate Morton has never left me disappointed but I didn’t know what to expect from her debut novel.  It was on my tbr list for a long time, and I thought I should give it a chance. As soon as I began to read, I knew I was going to love it. In the end, I was right, this book was amazing and I had trouble to put the book down. The characters were so vivid, and likable. For those who watch Downton Abbey, the world was very similar; Aristocratic family relationships upstairs, while the servants live and interact downstairs.

The House of Riverton introduces readers to Grace; she’s ninety-eight years old and living in a nursing home.  When a filmmaker contacts Grace about her time living at Riverton, Grace realizes that so much of Riverton was a mystery, including an alleged suicide by a family friend. Grace begins to tell her story and readers are taken on a captivating ride. At fourteen Grace was given a position as a servant, her mother was once a servant and seemed to have some pull since positions weren't easily given. Grace was told to listen and do as she was told but she couldn't help but become fascinated with the children upstairs. Grace’s attachment to the siblings grew overtime and her loyalty remained strong.  As the children grow into young adults, Grace is fully aware of their struggles and desires.

Kate Morton’s descriptions are so vivid. 1920’s England, a world war and its aftermath are all key elements in story. While readers will love the past story, Grace’s present story is also very interesting. Grace admits that she wasn’t the best mother. She mentions that mothers and daughters have a difficult relationship because there’s so much pressure but grandchildren are different. The expectations are different. She has a close relationship with her grandson but his life has recently been turned upside down, and he hasn’t communicated to anyone in months. Grace knows that her time is limited, but she’s kept so many secrets for so long. The House of Riverton won't disappoint. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors and can't wait for her upcoming release. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Resolutions for 2015

This past year reading and blogging was put on a back burner while I spent my days with Caleb. I've already posted about him not being a good sleeper. (He actually slept through the night last night) Since I've been back to work, I realized that I have more time to read. I'm commuting to work, and have lunches and breaks that I can devote to reading.  I've been thinking about what I choose to read, and how the blogging community really influences what I read. Social media is addictive and I tend to pick up books that I see others raving about. That's great but before I was a blogger, I read whatever I came across and I read a lot of classics. I miss those books. I tend to not pick up books that have been on my tbr list for years, and opt for the newer read. I would really like to change that in 2015. I want to try and be a more well rounded reader. I would like to read or reread some classics, find some great Canadian reads, and not be afraid to pick up those chunksters.

I'm a huge Gilmore Girls fan and I've been re-watching the series on Netflix. THANK YOU Netflix! I realized that I was the type or reader that Rory is, and I miss that. I remember picking up The Bell Jar and The Virgin Suicides and being completely absorbed in those reads. I just think I'm missing out on some great reads because I'm choosing only newly released books. 

Here is a list of my resolutions

1- Don't be afraid of chunksters
2- Read more Canadian Fiction
3- Be a more diverse reader
4- Classics, it's okay to read and review them
5- The books that have been on my tbr list for years still deserve to be read

Overall, I would like seek out books that I would normal pass over. 

What are some of your favorite backlist titles?