Recent Reads: Fall 2015

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking the time to make more room for my hobbies now that my life in Prague has become a bit more settled. My longest running, and perhaps most loved, hobby...is reading. I have burned through quite a few books in the past couple of weeks so I thought I would take the time to share some thoughts on my recent reads.

Summary from Goodreads:
"Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic."
My thoughts:
This is one of the most difficult books I have ever read...not because of grammar, vocabulary, or writing style, but because of the seriousness of the content. This is not the type of book that you want to read if you are looking for that "warm heart" feeling. 90% of the book is heartbreaking, and I cried at several points. Amir, the main character, is quite unlikeable during the first half of the book, and some of the other background characters are infuriating.
Despite all of the more negative aspects though, this book opened my eyes in a way that they have not been opened in a long time. I read a lot of reviews after finishing the book and there are so many people out there who hate it because of the type of story it tells. Several people said that this is a book that people read when they want to "pretend to be cultured." I think though, that if you read this book and don't feel some type of overwhelming emotion, that you are reading with the wrong mindset. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
Summary from Goodreads:
"One of E. M. Forster's most celebrated novels, A Room With a View is the story of a young English middle-class girl, Lucy Honeychurch. While vacationing in Italy, Lucy meets and is wooed by two gentlemen, George Emerson and Cecil Vyse. After turning down Cecil Vyse's marriage proposals twice Lucy finally accepts. Upon hearing of the engagement George protests and confesses his true love for Lucy. Lucy is torn between the choice of marrying Cecil, who is a more socially acceptable mate, and George who she knows will bring her true happiness. A Room With a View is a tale of classic human struggles such as the choice between social acceptance or true love."
My thoughts:
This book has been sitting on my "to read" list for a while now. I was really excited to start it, but my excitement dwindled after I made it through about 10 pages. To put it in a nutshell...I. Hated. This. Book.
However, since I am the type of person who finishes any book they begin, I pushed through and read it to the end. I waited and waited for a moment where the switch would flip and I would fall in love with it, but it never came. I can probably count on one hand all of the books I have read and hated. I don't like using the word "hate" for books, but sometimes it has to be used. Everything about this books was dull to me. Lucy, the main character, was dull. The story was dull. The outcome was dull. The writing was dull. There was not a single likeable character, and at the end I felt like I had spent my time reading a lot of pointless conversations between privileged, uninteresting people. It was a true struggle to read the entire thing.
I know there are a lot of people out there who love this book, so I may get some negative feedback. I'm sorry though. It just didn't cut it for me. I gave it 2/5 stars.
Summary from Goodreads:
"For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty-- they've grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other's lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. They've been soul mates since they were born.

So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There's a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father's cabinet-- a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described."
My thoughts:
If you have read any of my past book reviews, you know that I love Jodi Picoult and I basically think she can do no wrong. I think I really appreciate the research that she puts into her books, and the ability that she has to write about really difficult situations in an appealing way. She's never afraid to go the extra mile in her writing.
The Pact, though it probably isn't one of my favorites from her, was still a great read. It kept my attention, it made me both happy and sad at different points, and it surprised me. Picoult's books are never quite predictable in the way you think they will be. I also really liked the dynamics of the characters in this book, and the way that it dealt with several different relationships. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
Summary from Goodreads:
"Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same."
My thoughts:
This has also been on my list of books to read for a while, but after being a bit disappointed with Paper Towns, another work from Green, I put off reading it even longer. I was much more taken with this book though. My absolute favorite thing about John Green, is how he always finds ways to create a story around famous quotes or ideas from other writers and thinkers. He also isn't afraid to create characters who are a bit odd or socially strange, and he always finds a way to write about a serious thing in a way that makes the reader reflect on deeper levels. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I am a Jodi Picoult fan and love her books but I agree this wasn't my favorite topic but it does make you think. I haven't read any of the other books. I'm starting a series by the author Robert Dugoni and enjoying his writing very much.

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