Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could-and, arguably, should-be happier. Thus, her methodical happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and "acting more energetic"). By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good but not perfect.

I am not big on 'self-help' books but, this is very easy to read and her systematic approach appeals to my list keeping part of my brain.  Overall, I found this a very enjoyable book that I think almost everyone would benefit from to appreciate the things that we have in our life and focus on things that make us happy.

Rating: 4.2  Recommend

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What I Was by Meg Rosoff

An unnamed man recounts his time as a disgruntled student at St. Oswald's boarding school; upon ditching an outdoor physical education class jog, he stumbles upon a mysterious fellow teen named Finn who lives alone and off the grid in a hut by the sea. The protagonist, enraptured by his newfound friend, makes it his business to spend as much time as possible with Finn, a major challenge considering school curfews and that the hut can only be accessed during low tide. Weeks go by and Finn falls ill, setting the stage for a surprising revelation that will dramatically transform both boys. Rosoff's unconventional coming-of-age tale is elegantly crafted and elegantly portrays how we often become who we need to be.

I really enjoyed this book and find myself reflecting on it.  I think it will stay with me for a long while.

Rating: 4.6

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time. You’ll cheer for the man who somehow maintained his selfhood and humanity despite the monumental degradations he suffered, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you know.

This is extremely well written and an absolutely amazing story.  It makes me even more grateful to all the wonderful service men and women  - thank you..

Rating: 4.5 Recommend

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

The Cardturner: A Novel About Imperfect Partners and Infinite Possibilities
Alton Richard's great-uncle Lester Trapp is rich and ailing, a combo that leads Alton's parents to hatch a plan for the teen to cozy up to the old man and carve out a chunk of inheritance. Though blind, Trapp is a brilliant, world-class bridge player and needs someone to read him his cards and make his plays. It is astonishing how Sachar can make blow-by-blow accounts of bridge not only interesting but exciting, treating each play like a clue to unravel the riddle of each hand.  This is an intergenerational friendship and is sweetly appealing.  It could almost make you interested in bridge!

Rating: 4 Good

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Still Missing
This debut thriller, set on Vancouver Island, pulsates with suspense that gets a power boost from the jaw-dropping but credible closing twist. In psychiatric sessions, Annie O'Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor with a nice boyfriend and a demanding mother, describes her year-long ordeal as the captive of a rapist. Annie was about to close up an open house for a property when a guy who introduced himself as David showed up. The intense plot alternates between Annie's creepy confinement, her escape, and her attempts to readjust to real life, from going to the bathroom when she wants to managing her own meals. Still, Annie knows that a large part of her soul is still missing. Her transformation from victim adds to the believability of the enthralling plot.  As gritty as this was, it was a gripping read.

Rating: 4 Good

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now
This begins in modern day London, slightly in the future, and as its heroine has a 15-year-old Manhattanite called Daisy. She's picked up at the airport by Edmond, her English cousin, a boy in whose life she is destined to become intricately entwined. Daisy stays at her Aunt Penn's country farmhouse for the summer with Edmond and her other cousins. They spend some idyllic weeks together--often alone with Aunt Penn away travelling in Norway. Daisy's cousins seem to have an almost telepathic bond, and Daisy is mesmerized by Edmond and soon falls in love with him. Their world changes forever when an unnamed aggressor invades England and begins a years-long occupation.  This is an easy enjoyable read and I enjoyed the quirkiness of it not being a conventional novel.

Rating: 4.1 Good