Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Good Girl, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, & I'll Give You the Sun MINI Reviews (200 Words or Less)

Happy October to you!  If you are like me, you're probably still trying to figure out where September went.  Wasn't it just Labor Day?  Time truly flies, doesn't it?  

September was a good reading month for me and below are three mini reviews of books that I read last month.  

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (2014)

Book Description from Audible:  
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, Colin Thatcher seems at first like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and Detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

My MINI Review in 200 Words or Less:  I admit that I wasn't thrilled with this book during the first hour or so.  The story is told from the points of view of three characters:  Eve, Mia’s mom; Gabe, the lead detective in Mia’s disappearance; and Colin, the man who kidnapped Mia.  Keeping the characters straight was the easy part.  What I found difficult was keeping the timeline straight.  Each character contributed to the story by sharing events from his/her perspective that happened either “before” or “after” some mysterious, plot-defining moment that is unknown to the reader until later in the book.  The events of the story are not told in chronological order, which complicated things in my opinion.  Once I acclimated to the style of the storytelling, to the bouncing back and forth between before and after, the story grew on me.  Although I never fully figured everything out, I did pick up on several subtle clues that were sprinkled throughout the book.  I knew something was up, I just didn’t know what.  
Overall, it was an enjoyable book once I acclimated to the format.  There were just enough clever twists and turns to keep it interesting.  The Good Girl is a very solid debut.
RATING: ★★★★

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014) 

Book Description from Goodreads: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My MINI Review in 200 Words or Less: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a lovely little book, full of warmth and bookish charm.  It’s cute, well written, and contains some interesting characters.  It’s not perfect by any means, but I found it to be a light and enjoyable read that elicted both laughter and tears.
RATING: ★★★ 

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)

Book Description from Goodreads: Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

My MINI Review in 200 Words or Less:  I’ll Give You the Sun is a book that has popped up in my life all summer.  It was everywhere I turned – in bookstores, in entries on blogs that I read, on book lists that someone, somewhere claimed that I absolutely MUST read.  I finally decided to give it a try and I admit that I’m glad it kept popping up in my life.  It is an excellent read that I otherwise might’ve never considered.  

I'll Give You the Sun a story about second chances, making things right, and being true to oneself as told by two fraternal twins, Noah and his sister, Jude.  I’ve read a lot of POV books lately, but this one has an interesting twist – Noah’s point of view is in the past and Jude’s is in the present.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The writing was fluid, the dialogue believable, and the plot plausible.  It was intriguing and kept me engaged trying to put all the pieces together as to what caused the rift between these once-close siblings.  Although this is a YA book, it would be enjoyable for older readers as well.
RATING: ★★★★

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?  Thanks for stopping by!

My rating system:
★★★★★ = Awesome!  Good chance I own a print copy!
★★★★ = Very good.
★★★ = Good.
★★ = Not good.  I finished it, but did not like.

 = Absolutely loathed it!  I may not have even finished it.


  1. AJ Fikry - I loved, I adored, I can't say enough good things about how much I liked it. The other two books are already on my never-ending to read list.

  2. I've wanted to read I'll Give You The Sun for so long now. I really need to get to it because sometimes I can build a book up so far in my head and then I'm disappointed in it by the time I read it.


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