Nancy A. (Chocoholic) - Reviews

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11/22/63
11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 259
Review Date: 1/7/2012
Helpful Score: 10


This is one thick book, coming in just shy of 850 pages, and I won't lie, it's not my favorite work by Stephen King but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The story is about Jake Epping, a single schoolteacher who finds a portal to 1958 in the back of a diner and sets out on a mission to save John F. Kennedy's life on November 22, 1963. There's a love story running right through the center of the story, and this I think is one of the only faults in the book, because the love story part runs a bit on the long side and bogs the main tension line down. The ending is somewhat unexpected and bittersweet--what is with Mr. King writing tearjerkers of late? On the whole, a good book with some surprises, good, bad, and ugly.


20th Century Ghosts
20th Century Ghosts
Author: Joe Hill
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 41
Review Date: 12/9/2009
Helpful Score: 2


A collection of short stories by the (relatively) new author, Joe Hill. Some are flat-out scary, and others are bittersweet. At least one was just downright funny. Make sure to read the "acknowledgements" section of the book, as there is a hidden story there, as well.


666
666
Author: Jay Anson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 5/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Well, I suppose I will have to be the first to write a "real" review of this book. It's another horror novel from the 1970's by the same man who brought you "The Amityville Horror". It's about a mysterious house and an even more mysterious owner and the strange goings-on inside of it. It's not exactly a haunted house story, but I'm not sure how else this would be classified. A husband and wife duo become entangled with the house and its occupant(s) when the new house arrives in their neighborhood. There are one or two plot-holes that I would have liked to have had fixed, but for a day's read, it's not bad. It's more than a bit dated, and ever so slightly predictable, but still enjoyable.


The Accident
The Accident
Author: Linwood Barclay
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 48
Review Date: 4/24/2013
Helpful Score: 1


Stephen King listed this book as one of his "must-reads" for the summer, so naturally I had to read it. This book defies description, really. It is a thriller that will keep you awake at night and turning the pages, unable to put it down. I've never read one of Mr. Barclay's books before, but this will not be the last I read. It starts when Sheila, the wife of a building contractor is killed in a car accident deemed to be her fault for DUI which also kills two other people. Her husband doesn't believe that she could have done this and sets out to find out what really happened to her. Along the way, he encounters corrupt police, counterfeiting rings, prostitution, and murder. Just read this book. Trust me on this.


The Accident
The Accident
Author: Linwood Barclay
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 4/24/2013
Helpful Score: 1


Stephen King listed this book as one of his "must-reads" for the summer, so naturally I had to read it. This book defies description, really. It is a thriller that will keep you awake at night and turning the pages, unable to put it down. I've never read one of Mr. Barclay's books before, but this will not be the last I read. It starts when Sheila, the wife of a building contractor is killed in a car accident deemed to be her fault for DUI which also kills two other people. Her husband doesn't believe that she could have done this and sets out to find out what really happened to her. Along the way, he encounters corrupt police, counterfeiting rings, prostitution, and murder. Just read this book. Trust me on this.


The Accident: A Thriller
The Accident: A Thriller
Author: Linwood Barclay
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 75
Review Date: 4/24/2013
Helpful Score: 4


Stephen King listed this book as one of his "must-reads" for the summer, so naturally I had to read it. This book defies description, really. It is a thriller that will keep you awake at night and turning the pages, unable to put it down. I've never read one of Mr. Barclay's books before, but this will not be the last I read. It starts when Sheila, the wife of a building contractor is killed in a car accident deemed to be her fault for DUI which also kills two other people. Her husband doesn't believe that she could have done this and sets out to find out what really happened to her. Along the way, he encounters corrupt police, counterfeiting rings, prostitution, and murder. Just read this book. Trust me on this.


Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home
Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home
Author: Gil Reavill
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 5/22/2011
Helpful Score: 2


This was a fascinating book written by a crime-writer who works for Maxim magazine on the side, who decides to learn more about the people who clean up after suicides, homicides, industrial accidents, and unattended deaths. To do this, he shadows a company called Aftermath, Inc. who sends out teams to clean up after biological catastrophes for about six months. He describes in death some of the death scenes he visited with the Aftermath crew, and there are bits here and there that are not for people with weak stomachs. Nearer the end of the book, the author tended to get philosophical about death and the impact of crime on the family members left behind. On the whole, a very good read that kept me turning the pages.


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 5/7/2013
Helpful Score: 1


This is the story of Julia, an 11 year old single child living in California when the world as she knows it begins to change. The Earth suddenly and inexplicably begins to slow it's rotation and the days and nights begin to lengthen, having impacts on everything from the birds in the sky, the whales in the ocean, and even to astronauts in space. The book is told from the perspective of Julia as a young adult, looking back on this time in her life. Some reviewers have given this story bad ratings for problems with scientific credibility. This is interesting to me, because I read an interview with the author who said that she vetted this book with an astrophysicist who deemed the book entirely credible. She said that she only made minor changes to the book on the advice of the scientist. Regardless, this book is a work of fiction and should be regarded as such. It is also an amazingly written work of fiction that reads like an elegy and should be read by everyone.


Alice I Have Been
Alice I Have Been
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 44
Review Date: 12/25/2010
Helpful Score: 4


This is a haunting love story about the life of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the man we know as Lewis Carroll to write "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". It is apparently quite historically accurate and involves a bit of a mystery and a bit of a love triangle. This book isn't the sort of genre that I usually find myself reading, but I was nonetheless quite absorbed in Alice's story. An exceptionally good read for fans of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, or anyone who likes reading about the Victorian era.


The Alphabet of Creation
The Alphabet of Creation
Author: Ben Shahn
Book Type: Hardcover
  ?
Review Date: 12/28/2011


A children's story based on a legend from the Zohar about the Hebrew letters vying to be the first in the alphabet.


Ape House
Ape House
Author: Sara Gruen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 12/18/2010
Helpful Score: 2


This is the newest novel by Sara Gruen, author of "Water For Elephants". In this outing, Sara explores the kinship of the Great Bonobo apes and the bonds they make with humans. Isabel is one of their caretakers, who is injured and her beloved apes are taken from her and in an inexplicable move, end up being the latest reality TV fodder. There is a lot of characters in this story; including a primatologist, a stripper, a journalist, and an Argyle-wearing Pit Bull named Booger. This was a great, fun read and I was impressed by the amount of research that the author put into this work to get it "just right".


Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Author: Alison Bechdel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 12/7/2012


This is a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, author of "Fun Home." This memoir is about Alison's relationship with her mother. There are a lot of references to Freud and another psychologist, and Virginia Woolf. I really wanted to enjoy this book but felt that the near constant references to psychological issues were tedious and too heavy-handed. I liked this book, but I liked her first book, "Fun Home" better.


Ask the Passengers
Ask the Passengers
Author: A. S. King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 12/25/2013


Astrid Jones struggles with her high school philosophy class and whether or not she is gay. She has a girlfriend, Dee, a boy who wants to date her, and parents who don't understand. This is a book for the young adult crowd and is a good read.


Audition: A Memoir
Audition: A Memoir
Author: Barbara Walters
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 79
Review Date: 11/29/2009
Helpful Score: 1


An in-depth autobiography of the news legend Barbara Walters. The first 100-200 pages are solely about her upbringing and family history and how she first got into broadcast news. That first part was really interesting. Barbara talks about how she was the first woman to do various TV roles and how she led the way for other women to follow in her footsteps. She also goes into great detail about various interviews she has done with celebrities and political figures and how she stays in touch with them, even after the interview is over (or not). I stopped reading about 350 pages in. Honestly, after 350 pages, the book seems to be a lot of name-dropping and either bragging or complaining about the various interview situations she found herself in. It got to be very monotonous and I had to put the book down. I enjoyed reading the first half of the book, but the second half just gets to be too much, IMHO. If you're a diehard Barbara Walters fan you will probably like this.


Auschwitz: A New History
Auschwitz: A New History
Author: Laurence Rees
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 12/10/2009
Helpful Score: 1


An intriguing, heart-wrenching biography of the infamous Nazi concentration camp. This story explains in detail how the decision to commit wholesale genocide was arrived at, and how it evolved. Includes many anecdotes from Auschwitz employees and prisoners, and also details what happened to them at the conclusion of the war. An un-easy read, for sure, but important not to forget what happened.


Backseat Saints
Backseat Saints
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 47
Review Date: 8/22/2010
Helpful Score: 3


This is another great read from Joshilyn Jackson. Its story centers around Rose Grandee, a minor character from her first novel: Gods in Alabama. Rose Grandee loves her husband and her dog, but her husband is abusive and she frequently ends up in the ER. When a gypsy at an airport tells her that she must choose between her husband or herself, the wheels of the novel are set in action and Rose takes off on a journey to find herself. I've read all of Mrs. Jackson's novels, and I think I like this one the best. I read it cover to cover in just three days.


The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic
Review Date: 4/23/2012


Though this book is about 250 pages, I devoured it in a day and a half. This book is equal parts biographies of the 8 musicians and history of the Titanic. If you're not into biographies you might be bored, but the author doesn't go overly long on each musician, just enough so that you get an idea of the personalities of these brave men. If you're a Titanic history buff, then this is your book. The author introduces you to each musician and then goes into some detail of the Titanic's fateful voyage and along the way introduces some mysterious aspects that have yet to be fully settled. He introduces the debate about what music was played last and what might have happened to at least one of their instruments. Overall, a very good read!


Beatrice and Virgil
Beatrice and Virgil
Author: Yann Martel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 5/11/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Wow! If you read one book this year, make it this one! Beatrice & Virgil is the story of an author named Henry who struggles with writer's block. While he is struggling to write a book that is both fiction and non-fiction, he takes the time to answer his fan mail. On one fateful day, he opens a letter from a fan that includes portions of a play in progress. The play concerns one donkey named Beatrice and one Howler monkey named Virgil. Henry is drawn into the play of Beatrice and Virgil, which is fairly oozing with Holocaust themes. This is a relatively short novel of just over 200 pages, but it is a powerhouse of raw emotion, life, loss, and responsibility.

This novel is probably going to be timeless because these issues are endless and ongoing around the world, but for an interesting effect, try reading this novel with the backdrop of the recent, and controversial Arizona immigration reform act.

"We did what we could. We wrote to newspapers. We marched and protested. We voted."

This wins my vote for best book of 2010!


Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Review Date: 6/23/2014
Helpful Score: 3


This is the sort of book that a reader picks up on a whim, finds unable to put down, and thrusts into the hands of another when they're done, saying, "you have to read this." Because you do. You have to read this. This slice of life book is written so well that the characters come to life and the reader tends to forget that this is a work of nonfiction. This stuff actually happened. The book focuses on one slum of Mumbai, India and its inhabitants. There are good people and bad. All of the people are flawed in some way or form. At the end of the book, I found myself wanting to know more, wanting to know what happened to the families the author had caused me to care so much about over just a few hundred pages. Read this book. You won't regret it.


Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits
Review Date: 11/6/2010


This is a book about 50 other, greater books. No short stories are these: The Old & New Testament, The Iliad, Don Quixote, Ulysses, Moby Dick, and on and on. There are more than a few books in this list that I've never even heard of. Each book is thoroughly analyzed over the course of a chapter, and the author includes the best lines, the sexiest bits, and even what parts of the book can be skipped. This book reads like a good lecture from your favorite English professor; as it should be, the author IS an English professor.


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