Friday, April 3, 2015

Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – a school shooting where your kids attend school.  The nightmare gets worse as every other parent is reunited with their child except for you.  The police then arrive and tell you that your son is missing and a suspect in the shooting.  Where did you go wrong?  Did you ever know your son at all?

Finding Jake is the excellent story of Simon Connolly, a stay at home father of two children Jake and Laney.  On the dreadful day of the school shooting, Simon finds his world turned upside down and begins to question his life decisions.  Should he have been the stay at home parent even though his wife made more money than him?  Did his introversion rub off on Jake?  Is being an introvert a bad thing?  With the town and media turned against Simon, he continues the search for his lost son while reflecting back on decisions made in Jake’s upbringing.  Will Jake be found?  What caused this school shooting to happen?

Finding Jake was a book that I literally could not put down and read very quickly.  As a parent, I could relate to Simon’s self-doubts about whether you are raising your children appropriately.  I loved the format that would have a chapter in real time followed by a chapter in Jake’s childhood progressing from a baby to current day.  It was also a suspense novel – where was Jake?  Is he a cold blooded killer?  The search for him leads to a surprising and emotional conclusion.  I think this book would be an excellent book club selection and will probably be selecting it in the near future for my book club.

Overall, Finding Jake was an excellent suspense novel that explored tragedy as well as what it means to be a good parent.

Book Source: Review Copy from William Morrow – Thanks!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

What would it take to hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a lone woman?  Wild is the story of Cheryl Strayed.  Married to a perfect husband while young, Cheryl finds her life unraveling after her mother’s death when Cheryl is only 22 and her mother is 45.  Cheryl makes many unwise decisions at this point which leads to the unraveling of her marriage.  She is at loss in the world and unsure of how to rebuild her life.  She fixates on hiking the Pacific Coast trail alone although she has no hiking or backpacking experience.  She starts in the Mojave Desert and hikes all of the way through the state of Oregon the border of the State of Washington.  Along the way she makes some new and interesting friends, and finds herself.

Wild is the April FLICKS Book and Movie Club selection.  We are discussing it next week and I can’t wait.  I read this book one morning this week while I was sick with the flu.  It was a good way to catch up with my reading, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way.

I enjoyed the narrative flow of this book which about Cheryl hiking the trail, but would flashback to her life that lead her up to this point.  Cheryl makes no excuses for her bad life choices, but tries to find a way to find peace with herself and the death of her mother and move on to a life that her mother would have been proud of. 

I felt pained reading this memoir on Cheryl’s hiking shoes that made her toe nails fall off as well as her giant backpack that weighed about half of her weight.  I give her kudos for making this trip alone especially with no experience.   I felt distressed for her at several points, especially the lack of water. Backpacking is hard work and I can’t imagine doing it alone.  It’s been awhile since I’ve gone myself, but even with the bad experiences mixed in, this book made me look forward to when my kids are teenagers and we can go backpacking.  Although I’m thinking more weekend or week long trips.  In the Upper Peninsula J

Overall, Wild is a powerful memoir about one woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and finding herself along the way.  I highly recommend it.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Richard III by William Shakespeare

Title: Richard III
Author: William Shakespeare
Read by:  The Folger Theatre – The Folger Shakespeare Library Full Cast Recording
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 3 hours (3 CDs)
Source:  Review Copy from Simon & Schuster – Thanks!

I have never read or watched Richard III by William Shakespeare, but I love to read historical fiction set in this time period.  I was very happy to have the opportunity to review this audiobook.

Richard III is the full cast full length dramatic reading of the Shakespeare play.  This makes it very entertaining with each part read by a different actor complete with sound effects and music between each scene. What I discovered while listening to this audiobook is that Shakespeare painted a very dark picture of Richard III.  He is a Machiavellian character that works his way through the play to complete evil.  Shakespeare also condenses the timeline greatly.  Years pass by very quickly from Edward IV’s reign, death, Richard’s marriage, rise, and end all in a three hour play.

I read about this time period frequently so I understood most of the action although this was my first experience with the play.  I think the perfect experience with this audiobook would be to listen to it while actually reading through a Shakespeare play.  This type of audiobook would have been so helpful while in high school or college Shakespeare classes.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Richard III.  It was a great audiobook production.  I found myself interested by the play, but it was not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  I think the problem for me is that I am such a great fan of the time period.  I think that Shakespeare painted Richard III was a one dimensional character that was only evil, and failed to capture the true nuances of whether Richard III was good or evil.  It was more an exaggeration of the real historical figure.

I loved hearing my two favorite quotes in this play:
“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”