Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Sophia”

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #19: Summer by Edith Wharton

I am a big fan of Edith Wharton, even when her characters are driving me crazy. Her writing is beautiful, insightful and relatable–although it was written almost 100 years ago. I think it was another cannonball reviewer who recommended Summer (1917) to me and I’ve just now finally gotten around to reading it.

Summer revolves around Charity Royall, a young woman bored by her small-town, Massachusetts life and lack of opportunities. She yearns for something more but her ignorance and lack of options holds her back. She resents and is disgusted by her guardian, Mr. Royall, the town attorney, who wants to marry her. Charity is a fascinating character who is often selfish, ignorant, and at times both snobbish and concerned with her own inadequacy. Charity meets Lucius Harney when he comes visiting, and she is immediately swept away by his intelligence, elegance, and symbol of things she’s looking for in life.

What follows is one of the most realistic love stories I have ever read.

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Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #18: Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster

I picked up Hostile Witness (2004) by Rebecca Forster because I saw that it was free on Amazon. It’s hard for me to resist anything that’s free, but you tend to get what you pay for so I wasn’t expecting much when I started reading. What I found was a courtroom mystery/drama that kept me interested until the end. I’m not hooked enough to go looking for more books in this series, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Josie Baylor-Bates is a former criminal defense attorney. Still haunted by the actions of one of her former clients, she is dragged back into the world of criminal defense by the daughter of her old college roommate. The sixteen-year-old girl is accused of killing her step-grandfather, a California Supreme Court Justice. Josie tries to figure out what really happened, protect the girl from the system and her parents, and deal with her own demons.

I read this one awhile ago and don’t have much else to say, but you can read the rest of the review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #17: To Love a Man by Karen Robards

ImageI’m a fan of a good romance novel once in awhile. And I’m also a fan of Karen Robards. So, even though To Love A Man (1988) was published 24 years ago, I went in with relatively high expectations. I chose this book because I was craving some romance, and this was one of the few books available on kindle from my library. That should have been my first clue, but I figured since I enjoy her writing now, I probably would enjoy what she’s written in the past. But I was wrong. This was one of the worst books I have ever read. The writing was repetitive and boring, the characters were unlikable, and the hero was a complete asshole.
Lisa Collins comes from a family with money and works as a journalist at one of the newspapers her grandfather owns. She married her college sweetheart who turned out to be gay and had one child who died of Leukemia. In an effort to get away, Lisa Collins accepts an assignment in war-torn Rhodesia. When the farm where she is staying is attacked by rebels, everyone is killed and everything is set on fire. Lisa manages to escape and runs into Sam Eastman, a mercenary hired to–I don’t know, start a war or make the current leader look bad, or something. Because Lisa is making too much noise when she is running for her life, Sam punches her in the face, knocking her out. Sexy.
Read the rest of my review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #16: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I was a little slow to jump on the bandwagon and read A Game of Thrones (1999) by George R.R. Martin. I’m not a big reader of epic fantasy novels, and even after I heard good things about it, I was wary of devoting so much time to such a long series.

But I got into the characters and story almost as soon as I started reading. I am now halfway through the first season on HBO, and I have the second book waiting on my kindle. Once I get a little more free time, I’ll definitely work my way through the rest of the series.

Martin has created a very intricate and complex world filled with power-hungry leaders and feuding lords somewhat reminiscent of European history. But there are also small glimmers of dragons, magic, and zombie-like creatures scattered throughout that, surprisingly, do not affect the reality of the characters’ lives.

Read the rest of the review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #15: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I first heard about The Language of Flowers (2011) by Vanessa Diffenbaugh from a friend. Apparently it was a book that is becoming quite popular in book clubs. Having only a vague idea of what it was about, but  not wanting to be left out, I checked it out from the library.
The story begins and revolves around the life of Victoria Jones, an 18-year-old foster child who had been abandoned at birth by her mother. Pushed around between countless abusive foster homes and then group homes, Victoria, now an “adult” and completely alone in the world, suddenly has to take care of herself. She quickly finds herself living in the streets of San Francisco.
Read the rest of this review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #13: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

So, the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins… I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to write this review, but it’s probably a safe assumption that I’ll be throwing out spoilers for all three books.

Click here to read the entire review (and it is full of spoilers). Although I enjoyed the series, I was a little disappointed with it in the end.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #12 Divergent by Veronica Roth

And just like that, I am addicted to yet another young-adult series. I think it was a fellow Cannonballer who first recommended Divergent (2011) by Veronica Roth, so I dutifully found it in the library and started reading. And I found an exciting, violent story that kept me from doing more productive things this weekend.

In some ways, Divergent is very comparable to The Hunger Games. There is a dystopian society, threatening rebellion; there is a young woman, kicking some ass; and, of course, there is a love triangle. Beatrice is sixteen years old and lives in a post-war world that has split itself into five separate factions. These factions include: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Beatrice grew up in Abnegation but is now of the age where she must choose where she will live for her adult life. And if she doesn’t make it through the initiation process for her chosen faction, she will be stuck homeless between factions.

Roth creates a pretty exciting story that follows Beatrice into her new faction and her struggles there. A number of things about Beatrice I could relate to personally or reminded me of our world. In the beginning of the book, the separate factions felt very much like high school cliques. In addition, most everyone can understand the yearning to belong, the feeling that you don’t, and the urge to find the right path in life. I also appreciated that even though Beatrice is small and a girl, she is one of the toughest characters in the story. Apparently the second book comes out in May, and I will definitely be picking it up to see what happens next.

However, even though it was an easy and exciting read, I still had some problems with the story. I guess I’m kind of picky about consistency and realism in whatever world an author creates. I find it difficult to believe that a world would set itself up in factions, although I can overlook it since it was an intriguing idea. Where I had more problems was what seemed to me a lack of consistency with the characters, a lack of consequences for some of the action, and what sometimes felt like a manipulated plot in order to hit some specific dramatic points.

Read all the spoilers in the rest of my review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #11 Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I’m pretty sure I found my latest book through some random library kindle searching. I’ve read Seabiscuit, saw this was the same author, and thought it sounded pretty interesting. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010) by Laura Hillenbrand turned out to be even better than I expected. I couldn’t put it down and it continues to affect me even now that I’ve finished.

 I’ve always found history interesting, but I am more fascinated by the people involved and their personal stories than stories of political power and shifting allegiances. Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louie Zamperini, son of an Italian immigrant, a precocious and difficult child, an Olympic runner, and an Army Air Force bombardier in World War II. When Louie’s plane crashes into the ocean during WWII, it marks the beginning of an astounding struggle for survival that was hard to read but impossible to stop reading about. Because Hillenbrand took the time to ground all of the main players in this novel, I really cared what happened to them. When I finally saw a break coming for Louie, I was so relieved, only to find him falling into even worse circumstances. Some of it is really hard to believe. I can imagine movie producers nixing this story as too far fetched.
Read the rest of my review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #10 Shattered by Karen Robards

I like to break up all the respectable books I read with a guilty pleasure romance every once in awhile. It wreaks havoc on my productivity when I do nothing but devour page after page for a day or two. However, now that I’ve read a book about introverts, I’ve realized that it’s actually a good way for me to recharge—not that I really needed the justification. So, with that thought in mind, I downloaded Shattered (2010) by Karen Robards from the library onto my kindle. I had really enjoyed the last book of hers I had read (Pursuit?) and was looking forward to this one.

Read the rest of the review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #9 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I first saw The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2011) by Rebecca Skloot on my mother’s nightstand. She’s a librarian and often gets word of good books before me. So when I saw it again on the library’s kindle page, I immediately put a hold on it.

I enjoy reading non-fiction because I like to learn new things and understand other people’s lives. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating book for a number of reasons. This book looks into the lives of a very poor, black family in the South, medical research, the development of cellular cultures, and the ethics of taking tissues from patients and the patients’ right to be informed.

Henrietta Lacks is a poor, black woman, whose ancestors were slaves. When she was receiving treatment and dying of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins in the 1950’s, scientists took some of the cancerous cells from her tumour. These cells were the first cells that scientists were able to cultivate. Because of the cells’ hardiness, they were used in countless experiments throughout the world. No one in the Lacks family gave permission for this and they did not learn of it until twenty years after her death. The revelation that their mother was spread all over the world affected her children deeply.

Read the rest here.

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