DNF: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion

Amanda

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published December 30th 2014 by Simon & Schuster

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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One of my resolutions for 2015 is to let myself give up on a book if I am not enjoying it.  So, in the spirit of my resolution, I stopped reading The Rosie Effect at 30% in.  I adored the Rosie Project.  If you need a funny and sweet book you should run to pick that one up.  The Rosie Project introduced us to Don Tillman, a socially awkward professor from Australia, trying to find himself spouse.  Rosie is nothing like what he thinks he wants in life. I loved Don and Rosie together so I was really excited to continue their story in New York with a baby bonus in The Rosie Effect.  I thought the beginning was promising, but quickly changed my mind.  I loved that Don is nothing like your typical romantic main character, but in this book it seemed to go too far.  He came across as almost slapstick to me as opposed to a “real” person in a marriage.  It felt like every scene was set up for Don to make a horrible judgement and I was not entertained.

I see what one of my favorite book swapping people gave this 4 stars, so maybe this book will work for others. I found that I just didn’t want to keep reading, so I’m sticking with my resolution and stopping now. Are you feeling the Rosie Effect?  Do you think I’m making a mistake giving up?

Thank you Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Lives in Ruins

Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble, Marilyn Johnson

Amanda

Published November 11th 2014 by Harper

Hardcover, 272 pages

Source: E-ARC from Edelweiss

20873711

From Goodreads

The author of The Dead Beat and This Book is Overdue! turns her piercing eye and charming wit to the real-life avatars of Indiana Jones—the archaeologists who sort through the muck and mire of swamps, ancient landfills, volcanic islands, and other dirty places to reclaim history for us all

Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Kings, the Parthenon—the names of these legendary archaeological sites conjure up romance and mystery. The news is full of archaeology: treasures found (British king under parking lot) and treasures lost (looters, bulldozers, natural disaster, and war). Archaeological research tantalizes us with possibilities (are modern humans really part Neandertal?). Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter?

Marilyn Johnson’s Lives in Ruins is an absorbing and entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies.

What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost.

When I saw this book available on Edelweiss I knew I had to read it.  I dreamt when I was little of being a paleontologist and then an archaeologist  When I realized the reality of living on dig sites and camping I also realized this dream was not for me.  I still love reading about archaeological finds and this book did not disappoint me.

Marilyn Johnson takes us all over the world, looking at current sites and discussing past breakthrough finds and even talks about who Indiana Jones is to the real archaeological community.

“It’s tongue-in-cheek, but if you scratch any archaeologist, deep down inside they want to be him, one way or another.”

Johnson digs in to the profession by attending field schools in the Caribbean and on Cyprus, attending conferences, and interviewing archaeologists in the US, Europe and South America.  She shares stories of sites that sound fascinating, but what really struck me was the sense of loss in this field.  Finds are lost to treasure hunters, to war and  weather and to those that just don’t care about history when they’re trying to build a new parking lot every day.  I don’t mean to say the book was all doom and gloom at all.  Johnson and those she interviewed were very hopeful about the finds yet to be uncovered.  I thought the way that archaeologists are looking to the future was really cool!  Finding sites and waiting years to even begin to think about digging-can you imagine the patience!  Finding sites and covering them back up because they know that technology will be able to do so much more in the future.  I just don’t think my curiosity could handle that.

By far what I found the most interesting was the participation between the U.S. military and archaeologists.  From supporting historic native sites that are now on current military bases and  determining how to handle sensitive sites in war zones – I had no idea of the amount of time and attention given.  By choosing the sites she did Johnson makes an excellent case for how important archaeology is, despite the hard work, poor wages and sad lack of funding.  She makes the reader really think about what is still to be found and also what future archaeologists will think about us!

Lives in Ruins definitely piqued my curiosity for more nonfiction reading about archaeological sites and the individuals she interviewed.  I also will be checking out Johnson’s book about librarians, This Book is Overdue.

4 stars!

Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss for this advance read copy in exchange for an honest review!

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition.

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

Amanda

Published April 1st 2014 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

260 pages

From Goodreads…

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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.

I love books about books.  I can’t help it, I just do. We meet A.J. Fikry when he’s in a place of despair.  His book store is failing, his wife is dead, his best friend is a womanizing drunk.  A.J is a grump.  He’s a book snob.  He reminded me of my husband (a former book seller)-who I love dearly-but he is also a book snob (and maybe a grump).

“Everyone thinks they have good taste, but most people do not have good taste.  In fact, I’d argue that most people have terrible taste.  When left to their own devices– literally their own devices–  they read crap and they don’t know the difference.”

How can you not love A.J. Fikry?   We learn what A.J. expects from his books:

    “If a gun appears in act one, that gun had better go off by act three.”

YES!  I loved that each chapter began with a book review by A.J.  I loved how we learned what books he chose for Island Books changed as he changed himself.  This was a book about books; more importantly it was a book about life, about how we make family and about love.  I think this is one that it is best to read without knowing too many details, so I’ll stop here.  This book made me laugh and made me tear up.  What a life A.J. Fikry had.

One more quote, because as I know I had this experience and I want to know who else did too:

    …”I always wanted to try the Turkish Delight in Narnia.  When I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a boy, I used to think that Turkish Delight must be incredibly delicious if it made Edmund betray his family, A.J. says.  I guess I must have told my wife this, because one year Nic gets a box for me for the holidays.  And it turned out to be this powdery, gummy candy.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in my whole life.”

RIGHT?  That stuff is so gross! Such a let down.

Read it and tell if you loved this too! Also-survey please on Turkish Delight.  My husband has never tried it and I’m appalled.  I feel like this disappointment is a milestone in life.

5 stars!!

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition

Thank you NetGalley and Algonquin Books for this advanced read copy in exchange for an honest review!

Finished with Grave Mercy

Check out our first two posts here and here.

So, we read Grave Mercy together, checking in at various points, which is maybe one of the funner things we do here at Gun In Act One.

To summarize: Grave Mercy is the first in a trilogy about teenage assassins trained in a convent of the god of death, taking place in medieval Brittany during it’s struggle to remain independent from France. Interestingly, there was an endnote from the author about the historical accuracy of certain characters and plot points, putting aside the whole convent-of-death portion.

Holly’s wrap-up:

So, looking over my comments in our first two posts, um, I realized that I had a swearing problem with discussing this book. Oops.

My other final thoughts…I’d give this book a solid 3. I reserve my 4&5 stars for books that I’m going to insist that other people read, like now, and I just don’t feel too strongly about this one*. I’m going to read the second, obviously, since I already bought it for $1.99, but I’m not that wrapped up in it. And I thought the story skipped over some major sections (including the 3 years of training), which left me wondering WTF happened. A lot.

*Speaking of books that I’m going to insist people read, see: The Lumatere Chronicles. You’re welcome.

 

Amanda’s wrap up:

I have to go with my sister and give this 3 stars as well.   If you’re into historical fiction this was a good light read-because you really can’t take yourself too seriously when reading about teenage assassin nuns.  I liked Ismae and in the end I did enjoy Grave Mercy.  No, the mystery wasn’t deep, but it was an entertaining read.  The romance for me was just too rushed, partially because I had assumed all three books in the trilogy followed Ismae.  I hoped for time for the love connection I guess.  Now knowing that Book 2 follows Sybella instead, I am intrigued and will definitely continue the series, I just won’t be harassing my sister about it they way I sent her weekly emails to finish the Lumatere Chronicles.  Seriously, I won’t shut up. Just read them.

And if you’re still wondering WTF this book is, here you go:

“I am a handmaiden of death. I walk in His dark shadow and do His bidding. Serving Him is my only purpose in this life, and I have let my annoyance drive that duty from my mind. It will not happen again.”