Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

My Review: 
Since the latest version of The Great Gatsby will hopefully be coming out on dvd soon, I decided it was time for me to finally read this classic novel.  I'm sure many of you have already read this gem, but if you haven't I suggest that you do.

Nick is actually the narrator of the novel and we see events unfold before his eyes.  We watch as the mysterious Gatsby moves into a spectacular mansion next to Nick's average home.  Nick couldn't predict the events that would take place once he walks through Gatsby's front door to attend one of his famous late-night parties.  

As we follow Nick and his circle of friends throughout Long Island, it is interesting to learn the fronts that his acquaintances put on.  He learns that married couples really are not in love with each other, but are really having secret affairs with others within their own circle.  He is even more surprised to learn that everything Gatsby himself has done, is all to catch the attention and love of a woman.

This was a beautiful story trying to underscore the greediness of the human heart.  Even when we have it all, many of us still are not happy so find ourselves pursuing dreams that are out of our grasp.  With themes of love, deception, and friendship I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from a friend to read for my own entertainment. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday-Aug. 13

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski:
"I think it's just as likely that someone could say that this place, right here, is heaven, hell, and earth all at the same time.  And we still wouldn't know what to do differently."

pg. 256

Monday, August 12, 2013

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

I finished:
I have never read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald so I figured it was about time.  I did enjoy this classic and may post my review this week.  Now I am ready to see the movie!

What I'm Reading Now:
I decided to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski as this is our summer book club pick.  This is a longer novel and I have been savoring every page as I've only been able to read during my lunch-hour.  This novel takes place in the area where I live so I'm really enjoying the familiarity it has to offer.

What's next:
I think the next audiobook I listen to will be The Third Son by Julie Wu.  It seems like this will be one to give me a good glimpse into another culture.

Have a great week of reading everyone!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Audiobook Review: Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

Title:  Is This Tomorrow

Author:  Caroline Leavitt

Narrator:  Xe Sands

Unabridged Length:  aprox. 11.5 hrs

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website
It’s 1956, and working-mother Ava Lark and her son, Lewis, have rented a house in a less-than-welcoming Boston suburb. There, Lewis finds he is only able to befriend the other fatherless kids on the block, Jimmy and Rose. But when Jimmy goes missing, neighborhood paranoia ramps to new heights, further ostracizing Ava and Lewis.

Lewis never recovers from the loss of his childhood friend. In his twenties, he is a failure in love, living without direction, estranged from his mother. When Jimmy’s disappearance is unexpectedly solved, however, Lewis, Rose, and Ava are thrown together once more to try to untangle the remaining pieces of the puzzle and reclaim something of what they have lost.

My Review:
I loved this novel that takes us into a period when times were simple for many people, but an obvious struggle for others.  Ava falls into the category of living with hardships as she is a beautiful, divorced, single mother, doing what needs to be done to provide for herself and her young son.  Her lifestyle does not fit the perfect cookie-cutter appearance of the rest of her neighbors.

The story is really told from the viewpoints of several people.  Ava's son, Lewis, being one of them.  Lewis really is not very comfortable in his skin and not having a father around to help him deal with things doesn't help.  The kids tease him often since Lewis often wears hand-me-downs as Ava can't afford much else.  Since Ava is also Jewish they use that as a point of teasing too.

Jimmy is Lewis' best friend who happens to be smitten with Ava.  When Jimmy ends up missing one day, we also see the story through his sister Rose's eyes.  When Jimmy is never found, Rose finds that she can't enjoy things the way she used to.  Her mother seems to have forgotten that she is still here, and alive, so Rose starts to question her own worth in the world.

Life continues on for all of the characters even though Jimmy is never found.  As they stumble through their own existence, pieces relating to his disappearance come to light.  I don't want to give any more of this audiobook away as I found it a very enjoyable to experience the way events unfolded.  I think Sands did a good job of narrating and especially brought Ava's character to life for me.  I will admit that I found it annoying when she narrated the dialogue of male characters, especially the young boys.  She made them sound as if they were on drugs or half asleep all the time.  So if it weren't for that, I would have given this audiobook a perfect rating of 5!

I found myself always looking forward to listening to this book and thoroughly enjoyed the combination of drama and mystery.  With themes of perseverance, truth, love, and mystery, I think many of you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher through the Audio Jukebox program in exchange for an honest review.