The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Published: April 1, 2014
Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Dates Read: December 15-23, 2019
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.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
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 Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry 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, he 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, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. 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., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, 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.
Poor AJ Fikry has had a difficult time in his life lately:
His wife has passed away, his bookshop is not making sales like it should and now a prized possession is stolen! Life can’t possibly get any worse can it? No, in fact it can go in a complete 180!
This was a very enjoyable audiobook. At first AJ is not likeable at all, but over time he and his story grow on you. Maybe there are second chances after all.
If you are a bibliophile like me, you will enjoy this book as it is set in a bookstore! (Books Galore!) I would stay away from other reviews and even other book descriptions, as they give away what this mysterious package is. The book description that I first read did, and I wish I had not known. Go into this book knowing as little as possible and you will be sure to enjoy it!
Today Kim brings you a video review of The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
The Lovely and the Lost
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: May 7, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.
But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.
But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.
Kim’s Video Review:
The Virtue of Sin
Author: Shannon Schuren
Published: June 25, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
A novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.
Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
Ok, so to start, I’ll admit that my own life experiences and education completely colored my reading and other people will totally have a different opinion of this book. This really seemed to stick out while I was reading and I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I can’t. The story itself, the mystery, the twists, I did enjoy. This book had the potential to be such a great book with a fascinating cult, and amazing plot . . . But the thing that ruined it for me was the author’s own ignorance about the subject matter. Schuren obviously never grew up going to church or learning the Bible. It felt like she took all the propaganda that’s out there about Christians and white men and Christianity, and created a story that she thinks is close to reality. Some people may have just read it and accepted it as the way Christians are with a nod to the fact that it’s a cult so it’s probably not everybody.
I am not one of those people. I grew up with Bible lessons included in every subject everyday, Bible classes from preschool to college, church multiple times on Sunday, chapel almost everyday . . . And I noticed all the small things that didn’t work. No self respecting Christian, cult or not, would name a girl Delilah . . . She was the whore that brought Samson to sin. That’s like naming a girl Jezebel and ignoring that she was the most hated woman in the entire Bible. Bible verses were taken out of context or misinterpreted all together. The idea that women should be seen and not heard; dude my parents encouraged free thinking like you would not believe and they are legit the most sincere Christians I know!
As for the “feminist” side of things, every time one of the girls tried to point out how oppressed they are and how few choices they have, it was then pointed out that the boys were pretty much in the same position. But then, the story started wrapping up and I was enjoying most of the plot, boom, it was like a switch was flipped in Caleb’s head and he became a misogynist. Suddenly, this girl he loved and respected and valued became a stupid trouble maker, out of thin air. It was like Schuren realized that the oppression angle wasn’t working so we had to fix it and on one page, his character did a complete 180.
Everything just felt disjointed and unrealistic and preachy. As I said, the story itself wasn’t bad and I would have loved to get all involved in the twists, but all those little things just kept distracting me. I can’t really say that I recommend this book to anybody.