The Lovely Bones

Author- Alice Sebold
Title – The Lovely Bones
Genre – Fiction
Publication: September 30, 2009
Number of Pages: 368 pages

A # 1 bestseller – Recently turned into a movie-
Susie Salmon is  14 years old  when she is kidnapped, raped and murdered by a neighbor on her way back from school. Her soul is  trapped in “her heaven” a place between earth and heaven where she watches and narrates the subsequent police investigations on her death and  how her family and friends try to cope after her murder.  The entire neighborhood is shaken up by the murder of Susie Salmon. Her friends and teachers are shocked  even as they continue to look for her killer and try to make some sense out of the gruesome incident.

The concept of a dead girl watching from “heaven” intrigued me as well as many other readers. Even though the pacing is  measured, The Lovely Bones is so chilling and gripping that it’s so hard to put down.  With Susie narrating from the dead, the reader is easily drawn to her and able to empathize with her thoughts of ‘what might have been’. Especially about being robbed of the chance to experience teenage life –  her boy crush, her first kiss and other activities her peers are getting into. But sadly, Susie helplessly watches as her murderer moves about freely right in her  neighborhood with no qualms.

The author does a great job of examining the subject of life after death as she explores the question about what happens to the souls of the departed.  Are they truly watching the living? Could the dead possibly intervene in the lives of the living?  This book might provide some answers to readers curious about life beyond death while at the same time resonate with those who actually feel they might have had some real contact with dead. 

As a début novel which immediately became a number one best seller, I give Sebold credit for conceiving such a fascinating theme. However I noted a couple of inconsistencies and unrealistic scenes  especially towards the end of the novel  which made the wrap up a little awkward – You have to read this book to judge for yourself.  
 
The Lovely Bones strongly evokes a sense of sadness and loss.  It is a somber coming of age story that will appeal to teenagers and families  dealing with a loss. 

I found the movie a bit more cheery than the book – go check it out and share your thoughts…

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Boy Meets Girl

Author:Cabot, Meg
Title: Boy Meets Girl
Genre: Chick Lit
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 387
Geographical Setting: New York City
Time Period: Present day

The story is told from a series of emails, instant messages, journal entries, to do lists exchanged between characters in the story. Kate MacKenzie the main character recently moved out from her long time boyfriend Dale who would not commit to marriage. She is taken in by her newly married best friend and husband – Jen and Craig Sadler. The story progresses, with the ex boy friend desperately wanting her back and subsequently creating lot of scene with her refusal.
As the Personnel Representative – Human Resources Department of The New York Journal, Kate is ordered by her (unpopular) boss Amy but known as – T.O.D. (Tyrannical Office Despot), to fire the baker for refusing to serve a senior officer a piece of pie. Unfortunately, the fired employee sues the the New York Journal for wrongful termination, no – “breach of contract”.
Now, Kate is named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit. The start of this legal arbitration sets wheels of events rolling, leading to a new romantic venture for Kate, conspiracies, and some love trysts.

There are multiple plot threads going on at the same time involving family issues, friendship, and trust which intertwines and eventually connects back to the main story. An interesting angle is the plot of the cute defense lawyer who Kate is beginning to fall in love with and who happens to be Kate’s boss’ fiancé’s brother. This creates additional level of complexities making the book so much harder to put down – you are compelled to follow the unraveling of this situation.
This is a really heartwarming story, realistic plot with laugh out loud rhetorics. Anyone who loves romance without the “mushy” part of it would enjoy this.

Fiction Read – a-likes:

Getting to the Good Partby Files, Lolita
Not Another Bad Date by Gibson, Rachel
Strange Bedpersons by Crusie, Jennifer

Non-Fiction read a-likes:

Heart of the City : nine stories of love and serendipity on the streets of New York by Ariel Sabar
Finding Love Again: 6 simple steps to a new and happy relationship
by Orbuch, Terri
Date or Soul Mate?: How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Les by Neil Warren

The Day of The Jackal

I’m currently in this great class – Readers’ Advisory with an awesome instructor – Becky Spratford.  We’ve read quite a bunch of novels and wrote some reviews as well. I’d say-it’s been fun!

I first this title many years back and I have to tell you, I read it again with the same intensity and relish as I did the first time.  This is one of those books you can’t just put down – so be warned!

Skim through this and feel free to add more read a-like titles I might have left out.

Title: The Day of the Jackal
Genre: Thriller
Publication Date: May 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Geographical Setting: Europe – London, France, Germany
Time Period:
1960’s

Plot Summary:

A theme with an urgent matter shrouded in secrecy. The events takes place in the 1960’s Europe – a page turner that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The story unfolds gradually and builds in intensity. A couple of unsuccessful attempts had previously been made to assassinate Charles de Gaulle, President of France by some disgruntled members of the opposition group. Eventually, a decision is reached for a final assassination attempt-which has to be fool proof. An unknown, one man professional killer is hired to do the job. To keep his identity secret, he would take on a code name-The Jackal. Secret meetings are held, payment arrangements made and the killer let loose. As we get a step by step account of how the killer prepares for his job, tension gradually builds up. The government authorities somehow learn of the plot, this then sets off a roller coaster of events, leading to an intense man hunt for the assassin which moves the story at a very rapid pace. The various plans and schemes on how to capture the assassin are shrouded in secrecy making the story all the more suspenseful. As the story progresses, you are nervous as you watch the killer just one step ahead of the police. The book has multiple plots told from an omniscient point of view. This allows the reader to see into the minds of all the characters which adds to the tension. Each chapter ends with a cliff hanger increasing the sense of anticipation. This is a must read for any thriller fan- this book has you on edge the entire time!

Fiction read-alikes:

The Columbus Affair: A Novel by Berry, Steve
Private games  by Patterson, James
The Innocent by David Baldacci

Non –fiction read-alikes:

The murder of King Tut by James Patterson
Kill or Capture by Matthew Alexander