Showing posts with label jodi picoult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jodi picoult. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Review] House Rules - Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult - House Rules
In HOUSE RULES, Jacob, a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome is accused of having murdered his caretaker. 

What intrigued me: I'm a sucker for everything written by Picoult. Every time I start novel by her I noticed that I need a lot of time to get into the story. Her novels are definitely written in a very unique style and her multipe POVs are always executed masterfully.

Warning: Not A Light Read

If it wasn't for Picoult, I would have never considered making myself acquainted with Asperger's and trying to learn more about the people suffering from it. Similar to HANDLE WITH CARE, which features a little girl with the brittle-bone disease, Picoult takes a lot of time to explain everything in an easily understandable manner. The novel is very similar to HANDLE WITH CARE in many aspects: we have POVs of people in almost identical positions. The mother, the sibling, the abused, the lawyer and the police officer. Therefore I felt like she was writing very similarly to that novel, only exchanging the disease of the protagonist Willow (brittle bone) with Jacob (Asperger's).

Essentially it's a crime novel. I didn't start this book with the intention to read crime, I actually didn't have any expectations for it. I just saw Picoult's name on the cover and decided to get it. In hindsight, I should've at least checked what it's about before blindly purchasing it.

Jacob's brother Theo is supposed to be a fifteen-year-old but talks like an adult. I've seen Picoult write teenage characters pretty well before, but this time it's just a disaster. Theo neither acts nor passes for being remotely teen-aged and none of the characters aside from Jacob seems well-developed. The problem with Jacob's POVs is that it's written purposefully complicated to showcase the side effects of his disease. This leads to his passages being written like a non-fiction book about forensics and being very hard to read.

Pace A Little Off

Jacob is obsessed with crime scene investigation. The whole novel revolves around him either watching crime scene shows and reenacting the scenarios or him following the police around in hopes of finally witnessing a murder case. When his tutor Jess is found dead, he decides to try to solve the case on his own.

If you're not a fan of detective novels, this can get quite tiring very easily. I really don't care for crime and detective literature and therefore I got bored halfway through the novel. Sometimes, with really well written and fast-paced books, I enjoy the odd novel of that genre, but Picoult isn't able to get me hooked at all. Just like all her other novels, this one could have been significantly shorter and I felt like I was wasting my time trying to force myself to read a 700-page book that might as well could have been 400 pages long.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

No. There are better Picoult books and I'm very disappointed with this one. I fought my way through this and wasn't really surprised or intrigued with the resolution. Way too long, poorly written characters, and a premise that just isn't enough for a 700-page novel.

"When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty? Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject - forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right. But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

Have You Read Any Books By Jodi Picoult? 

What's Your Favorite?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Favorite Authors of All Time | Top Ten Tuesday

In this week's #TTT I talk about my ten favorite authors and why I love them and their work! 

I'll be linking the work by them that I've reviewed so far as well in case you're curious.

10. Jim Beaver
He's only written one novel and that one broke my heart. I am dying for him to pick up the pen again and write something new, because my copy is slowly falling to pieces. An insanely talented man.
Novel: Life's That Way

9. Lissa Price
She's not only a very lovely person, but has also written one of the most amazing debut novels I have encountered so far. I could not put the series down, no matter how hard I wanted to. And the worst thing is: I usually don't even read thrillers and action-packed stuff.
Novels: Starters (#1)   /  Enders (Starters #2)

8. L.J. Smith
Oh, how I loved her Vampire Diaries Series! Sadly, the series got worse as it went on (because it was ruined by a terrible ghost writer, but let's keep that for another post). I'm so glad I started reading her older novels, because they are just as wonderful as my memory of her Vampire Diaries Series. She builds worlds like no other.
Novels: The Craving (Stefan's Diaries #3)  /  The Hunter

7. Richelle Mead
Razorbill 2013 Cover
She broke me with her Vampire Academy Series. I have been in a massive reading slump ever since I read them and I don't think any fictional world can ever capture me that hard again. She ruined me and set the bar way too high for any vampire literature to come.
Novels: Vampire Academy (#1)  /  Frostbite (VA #2)  /  Shadow Kiss (VA #3)  /  Blood Promise (VA #4)  / Spirit Bound (VA #5)  / Homecoming  (VA #6.5)

6. Meg Cabot
I grew up with Meg. Not literally, but her Princess Diaries novels got me through high school. It's the only novel I own that I've read so many times that the pages are starting to come loose but I'll never ever get rid of that book.
Novels: The Princess Diaries  /  Insatiable  / Underworld (Abandon #2) / Abandon (Abandon #1)

5. David Levithan
God bless assigned reading. I read his first novel at university for a course and since then I've fallen hopelessly in love. The world needs more LGBTQ* novels and this wonderful man is doing his contribution to fixing that beautifully.
Novels: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares Six Earlier Days (Every Day #0.5)  /  Every Day (#1)  /  The Lover's Dictionary

4. S.G. Browne
The funniest author I've read from so far. His novels are satirical masterpieces and he somehow always manages to come up with ideas that have crossed my own mind once or twice already. Guaranteed to make you snort while laughing!
Novels: Breathers: A Zombie's Lament  /  Fated
Entangled Teen 2012 Cover

3. Jennifer L. Armentrout
I fell hard and quickly for her Lux Series. I haven't read an entire series in a very long time and I read hers in about a month because I could not, for the life of me, put it down. She hasn't quite managed to live up to that series again, but she'll get there eventually.
Novels: Shadows (Lux #0.5)  /  Obsidian (Lux #1)  /  Onyx (Lux #2)  /  Opal (Lux #3)  /  Origin (Lux #4)  / Opposition (Lux #5)  /  Don't Look Back

2. Sophie Kinsella 
Sophie Kinsella is the pseudonym of Madeleine Wickham, who's definitely gone through a major transformation that you can clearly see in her novels. She's the author guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.
Novels: I've Got Your Number   /  Twenties Girl  /  Wedding Night

1. Jodi Picoult
I love her to death. Every single one of her novels is a work of art, carefully crafted and with a beautiful message. She writes novels about controversial topics, novels about things that other authors don't even bother with.
Novels:  Second Glance    /    Handle With Care

Have you read novels by those authors? 

What do you think of them? 

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Late Christmas Haul and January Reading Queue

This year, I've been a very bad girl. Instead of taking care of my TBR pile and reading the books that have been waiting on my shelf for months or even years, I bought new books and read them instantly. Some of these are for example "Handle With Care", "Twenties Girl", "Vampire Academy", "Sapphire Blue", "Ruby Red", which have already been read and reviewed. These and many more have all been bought around Christmas time but I decided to not queue them, because I couldn't wait to read them. Now you guys can look at the damage. Since I've been reading about 8 books per month for quite some time I thought this was a realistic amount of queue'd books for this month:

Two of these actually belong to an earlier haul back in August or something, but I decided that they have to be read in the not so distant future if I don't want them to rot on my shelf. As a consequence, you've probably already seen Cathy Kelly's "The House on Willow Street" and Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" sometime around on my blog.

The remaining four that I intend to read are all brand-new and I should feel very bad for this but I don't. I may or may not have another book order incoming and I probably will cram those books into my queue as well because I just can't follow rules.

"Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen one of those books that everyone already when they were twelve. Well, I'm late to the party as always but I'm very curious because her books are said to be tear-jerkers, Bring it on!

"I've Got Your Number" by Sophie Kinsella
...has been on the list for ages. I'm going to read everything by Sophie Kinsella ever, because she's my comfort author and hasn't terribly disappointed me so far. I'm looking at a nice cozy chick-lit read which will follow up the next tear-jerker or dark novel I read.

"House Rules" by Jodi Picoult one giant of a book and looks according to the cover design a bit like "Handle With Care" which crushed me. They're both about parents of disabled children and I'm probably going to crush my heart again reading this. I love Jodi.

"Throne Of Glass" by Sarah J. Maas 
...had to be on my TBR eventually. I hate high fantasy stories, I fricking hate asssassins and the like, but everyone said it's so so good, so I tried it. I mean, I liked "Inkheart" and "Graceling" so this can't be that bad. Wrong. I tried reading it a few weeks ago and didn't manage to get past page 20. Ugh. This needs a second try.

Have you read any of these and what did you think? 

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Friday, December 19, 2014

[Review] Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult: Raising Chronical Illness Awareness

In "Handle With Care" by Jodi Picoult, Charlotte O'Keefe sues her gynaecologist and best friend Piper for not telling her that her unborn daughter Willow would be born with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as the brittle-bone disease.

This is obviously NOT a light read. You're going to be in a constant state of being overwhelmed with emotions and questioning your own beliefs. The decision to abort a child because it will be born with a disability is tough and I would just go ahead and say there is no right or wrong answer to this question. "Handle With Care" had me stay awake for hours at a time, thinking about what I would do would I ever be in that kind of situation. I still don't have an answer.

"Handle With Care" is a classic Picoult novel. Just like in each of her works, the characters are developed to perfection. Even side characters like the Judge who just dyed his hair jetblack one day and told everyone he was going to get a motorcycle license remain unforgettable. Again, she decided to part the novel in different point of views. Picoult still remains the only author to me that gets away with that, simply because there is no superficial, superfluous blabla in this. Every chapter is important (and that in a 500-something-pages manuscript!!) and at no point I got the impression that she was just stringing the plot along. This is classic for her, we get flashbacks and so much information about the background of her characters without even noticing. At no point the present tense plot suffers from this. She's a writing genius, really. (Writing 5/5)

Back to the characters. There is no black and white in this novel, there is no good or bad, there is just people and their decisions. I found myself trying to hate the mother of Willow, the sick child, because she repeatedly hinted at the fact that she would have loved a "healthy" child differently. But then again I understood perfectly that she had to lie about this in order to get the money that Willow would need for future treatments.
I was angry at Willow's father Sean for leaving the family during such a difficult time. Then again, I understood why he did it because his wife was being unreasonably terrible at ... well ... being a wife and a human being.
I was completely annoyed with Willow's older sister Amelia who developed several disorders just because she wasn't getting enough attention. Yeah, but then again, imagine to be always in the second row and never get any love from your parents just because you have a sister with a chronical illness.
Picoult's characters are just unforgettable. I felt sucked into their world during their POVs and I perfectly felt like I knew them, this is character development done as right as it gets. (Characters 5/5)

Now we come to the only and most severe problem that this novel. It's too goshdarn long. Yes, I said before that every chapter is necessary to some extent, especially for character development. But the question is, in relation to the entertainment of the reader, do we need so much backgroun dinformation? I pretty much know the entire history of every single character in this novel, even if they only get one appearance. Fact is, if you have five (or more) POVs and corresponding storylines it's impossible to write a 300-page novel. I get that. I still don't get why Picoult decided to include the lawyer Marin Gates' personal history because it isn't really essential to the story. Also the way her adoption story is intertwined is just ridiculously illogical.

There is no clear line, you can't possibly keep track with the timing, and ugh ... too long!! I found myself contemplating to put the novel aside, despite the genius, genius writing and characters. This is the only problem that Picoult needs to work on - developing clear-cut plot lines. (Plot 1/5)

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Definitely. My opinion on abortion, disabilities and all that's related to that, was definitely changed through this novel. it's important to talk about chronical illnesses and it's also important to talk about the amazing people that take care of disabled family members or friends. It's a beautiful read, but be careful - you're going to cry.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Official Synopsis:

"Charlotte's daughter Willow was born with a severe form of brittle bone disease. One stumble could force her to spend months in a body cast. Willow's condition is expensive, and her family face financial ruin. Then Charlotte is offered a lifeline. She could sue her doctor for 'wrongful birth'. But her doctor is her best friend."

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

[Review] Second Glance - Jodi Picoult

In SECOND GLANCE, ghost hunter Ross Wakeman just wants to get in contact with his dead wife Aimee, but then stumbles accidently into a complicated family feud in a small town in Vermont.
Difficult to get into - but once you're in, you can't put it down!

Picoult introduces basically all characters after another completely randomly. It's not until the end of the book that you're actually able to make the connection between the actions in the beginning and that's why I had tremendous problems to get the novel started.

While I do love that Picoult obviously took her time to create diverse and non-clichéd characters, they are just too many. There are at least ten main characters, another ten side characters and also about five random people that make an appearance once or twice. But once you get into the story, have understood who is who and memorized the backstories, it is impossible to stop.
I finished it in roughly three or four hours of reading, and that is mainly due to her writing style. 

Each of the main characters has a back story that connects to the plot, has also a family history, and at some point will meet the other characters. My head hurts! I had to go back a few pages sometimes because I forgot the names. She often even only mentions the characters by their last names, especially when somebody else is talking about them. You can't risk not paying attention for a single second up until the middle of the novel, because you're probably going to miss something. I also had difficulties with the shifts in point of view.


Picoult is able to make the flashbacks fit perfectly into the present happenings and I think I rarely saw an author pull flashbacks off this well. Kudos.
The main storyline is a bit thin if you think about it and I am actually quite angry that I was mislead into thinking that this is a horror/ghost story novel. Well, there's certainly ghosts in it but it is by no means scary. It's a family drama. Bit of a thriller, but not so much either.

A thing that bothered me and maybe correlates to the fact that there are so many characters is that you could basically leave out the last hundred pages before the finale. Picoult tries to wrap up all the characters' storylines by making every. single. character. react to the resolutions of the plot. Essentially I enjoyed this and think it was pretty impressive craft-wise, storytelling-wise, but there are a couple of issues.



"Do we love across time? Or in spite of it? A developer has slated an ancient Abenaki Indian burial ground for a strip mall, and now strange happenings have the inhabitants of tiny Comtosook, Vermont, talking of supernatural forces at work. Ross Wakeman is a ghost hunter who's never seen a ghost -- all he's searching for is something to end the pain of losing his fiancee, Aimee, in a car accident. He tried suicide -- any number of times. Now Ross lives only for a way to connect with Aimee from beyond. Searching the site for signs of the paranormal, Ross meets the mysterious Lia, who sparks him to life for the first time in years. But the discoveries that await Ross are beyond anything he could dream of in this world -- or the next."
(Source: Goodreads)

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