Tag: 3 stars

The Best of Adam Sharp

Author:  Graeme Simsion
352 pages in Kindle

Published: May 2, 2017
Dates Read: April 20- May 1, 2017

My Rating: 3 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT.

But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

My Review

When I found out that Graeme Simsion had written another book that was not one of his ‘Rosie books’ (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect) I wanted to see what it was about!  The description of The Best of Adam Sharp had me interested in reading it. I found out that music is mentioned throughout the novel.  That was a plus as well!

The book begins in present day where Adam Sharp is living with his partner Claire for twenty years.  They are just going through the ‘swing of things’ with nothing much going on in their lives or with each other. Then out of the blue Adam gets an email from his old flame Angelina that is just one word: “Hi”.  He decides to return the email and they begin to correspond.  It eventually leads to Skype and then Angelina suggests that they meet up for a week; yes, she is married and her husband will be there too.

The novel goes back in time to the 1980s when Adam and Angelina first meet.  We get to experience their affair back then which is necessary with the course of the novel.

This is all I will mention about the plot. The Best of Adam Sharp is about life, relationships, and music.  Should the past be left in the past or is the chance to see ‘the one that got away’ again going to be worth it?  What or who does Adam want?

I loved all the music that was referenced in the novel. I did not know all of the music as it goes as far back as the 1960s. For reference there is a play list of the songs at the end of the novel.

Unfortunately, there was a lot I did not like about the novel.  I did not like the fact that Adam kept conversing with Angelina without telling Claire and there was a lot of flirtation going on.  As I was reading I wanted to tell him to stop temptation.  The characters were also not that likeable for me. I was curious what was going to happen so I kept reading.   Then at 60% into the novel it went in a direction that I was not expecting and certainly did not want to read.  It became a little bit risqué and controversial for me.  I kept reading to see how it would end, and around 90% it got better for me.  Though I felt indifferent with the characters, I could ultimately agree with the ending.

The novel is well written, but overall it was not for me.

The Best of Adam Sharp is very different from The Rosie Project.  Do not go into Adam Sharp expecting the same kind of book or you will be very disappointed.

**I received an e-arc from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.  Thank you for my copy!

Woman of God

Authors: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Published: September 26, 2016
Dates Read: April 14-26, 2017

My Rating: 3 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

St. Peter’s Square, Rome.
White smoke signals that a new Pope has been chosen.
Is it possible that the new Pope…is a woman?

The world is watching as massive crowds gather in Rome, waiting for news of a new pope, one who promises to be unlike any other in history. It’s a turning point that may change the Church forever. Some followers are ecstatic that the movement reinvigorating the Church is about to reach the Vatican, but the leading candidate has made a legion of powerful enemies who aren’t afraid to kill for their cause.

Faith has never come easy for Brigid Fitzgerald. From her difficult childhood with drug-addled parents to her career as a doctor healing the wounded in Sudan to a series of trials that test her beliefs at every turn, Brigid’s convictions and callings have made her the target of all those who fear that the Church has lost its way–dangerous adversaries who abhor challenges to tradition. Locked in a deadly, high-stakes battle with forces determined to undermine everything she believes in, Brigid must convert her enemies to her cause before she loses her faith…and her life.

Spanning the globe–from the drug dens, high-powered law firms, and churches of Boston to the horrific brutality of a civil war in the Sudanese desert to the beauty, violence, and spiritual enlightenment of the Holy Land–Woman of God is an epic, thrilling tale of perseverance, love, trust and nothing less than what it means to live in a fallen world.

My Review:

I went into Woman of God with different expectations of the book than the actual book I ended up listening to. From the description I thought it was going to be about a woman priest possibly becoming Pope and all the controversy to go along with that. I had these thoughts in my head:

“A possible woman Pope?!?  Controversial, intriguing, and a thriller… Behind the scenes at the Vatican.  Sign me up!!!”

Other than the prologue of the novel and also towards the end, this is not the story we get.   Instead we get the life story of Brigid Fitzgerald. Once I realized this was the direction Woman of God was going in I kept listening. I was glad I continued it as I ended up enjoying the novel.

After the Prologue we are introduced to Brigid, a woman doctor who is in the South Sudan who cares for victims of their very bloody civil war.  The violence is severe and many who Brigid cares about die.  She does not stay in the Sudan due to some severe injuries she has and her story continues.  Brigid deals with many relationships including marriage and children.  She had a strong faith in God and a special connection to him as well. At the novel progresses we see her evolution from doctor to becoming a female priest.

Throughout Woman of God she goes through countless trials and tribulations. She is in essence a female Job. In some ways it becomes excessive, as you begin to expect that something else is going to happen. I also began to figure out what her next ‘trial’ would be.  At times I found myself worrying what was going to happen next.

There is an actual trial that occurs due to one priest being accused of a scandal.  Brigid becomes a part of that trial.  This part of the novel shows how the Catholic Church is still deeply rooted in its ways without wanting to change, but there is a change as Brigid becomes a priest.  Brigid and Father James Aubrey begin a movement together that begins to change the Catholic Church and modernize it.

I won’t go in to much more detail. I have left a lot out as I don’t want to ruin a reader’s journey since we don’t really know what direction Woman of God will go due to the inaccurate book description.

Woman of God is ultimately about a woman’s continuing faith despite her many struggles she experiences.  I also feel it could be a ‘stab’ at the Catholic Church and its archaic ways despite the world constantly changing. In some ways it seems that the authors are critical with the way the Catholic Church is today.  Will the Catholic Church change at all or stay the way it is? Woman of God makes you think about that.  And I am not even Catholic!

I listened to the audio version of Woman of God which is narrated by Therese Plummer. She did a very good job with her narration, in fact there was one moment in particular when Brigid was in a very deep anguish and Therese captured that moment perfectly. I really felt Brigid’s emotion in that part of the novel.

Overall, if you can ignore the book description and go in expecting to hear about one woman’s life and experiences I would recommend Woman of God.


Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

Author: Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies

Published: November 19, 2013
Dates Read: January 17-27, 12017

My Rating: 3 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.
Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy’s return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent’s resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin’s mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body.

We also see a life reclaimed—a business created, a new love kindled—all from a wheelchair. Martin’s emergence from his own darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for a better life for others.

My Review:

Ghost Boy is true story of Martin Pistorius. At 12 years old he became ill and eventually was not able to communicate and had to be an a wheelchair. His family was told he would die in less than two years. His family also believed he was not aware of what was going on around him and had less intelligence than a toddler. Martin did not die as doctors predicted, he continued to live. He eventually became aware of his surroundings but was still unable to communicate. This lasted over a decade until one of his caregivers believed he did have awareness. Over time, Martin was able teach himself to read and communicate via a computer. Despite his limited mobility, he was eventually able to get a job and find love.

This is a tragic story. The fact that is a real life story makes this a hard book to review as I had some issues with it. Those issues are what kept Ghost Boy from receiving a higher rating. The three star rating is a ‘good’ rating from me and there is nothing wrong with this rating. I will talk about the issues I had with the book and then a talk a little bit more about Ghost Boy.

The description of the book makes it appear that there was no form of communication from Martin at all. Indeed, at first he is not conscious however he later becomes self-aware, and eventually begins to communicate using a computer. Perhaps a different title and description would give the reader a better idea of what the book is actually about, or perhaps I just had the wrong impression.

Sadly, we still do not know what disease Martin has. He is still in a wheelchair and unable to speak without a computer to this day. I wish we had found out what his disorder was, though there are cases like this where we never discover what causes such a debilitating condition.

Some parts of the book Martin seemed to ramble on. Parts of the book could have been removed and it would not have affected the story. Another issue I had was that the book went back and forth in time. One chapter would take place in the past and the next would take place years later. This made Ghost Boy hard to follow at times, especially since I was listening to the audiobook. Occasionally the year or Martin’s age would be mentioned, but it was still difficult to follow. It just came off somewhat unorganized.

Martin’s story:
This is a tragic story. Imagine one day you wake up but can’t communicate or let anyone know that you know what’s going on. It could drive a person crazy but Martin dealt with this. He would be left in a room in front of a TV and ignored. People would do things in front of him that they wouldn’t normally do in front of someone because he was a ‘ghost boy’ who was invisible, when in fact he was conscious of everything going on.

*WARNING* Martin was mistreated by his caregivers in many ways. He was abused which he goes into detail about. There is also sexual abuse and rape, and he also gives graphic details. This could disturb some readers. It angered me to listen to this and you know that this happens all the time to the disabled and they may not be able to do anything about it.

Despite being unable to communicate I was surprised to hear Martin talk about his belief and faith in God. This was a welcome surprise. Somehow he knew about God and trusted and believed in Him. Through Martin’s experiences, he found a closeness with God as he could ‘talk’ with Him. In some way this may have saved Martin from going crazy not being able to communicate with people.

I found an article from June 2015 written by Martin’s wife that you may find it of interest, as I did. The article is from Redbook Magazine. After listening to Ghost Boy it was nice to read her perspective of events.

Despite the issues I had with Ghost Boy, I still recommend it. It is a story of resilience and strength that not many people may have. It also makes you think about the disabled who are not able to communicate. Are they actually fully aware of their surroundings or not? And if they could speak, what would they tell us?