Funky Cover Friday

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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls | Lynn Weingarten | Simon Pulse | July 2015 | 9781481418539

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Review: The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

22857253*I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Last Pilot

Author: Benjamin Johncock

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9781250066640

The Last Pilot
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, one of the exalted few. While America becomes swept up in the fervor of the Space Race, Harrison turns his attention home, passing up the chance to become an astronaut to welcome his daughter, Florence, into the world. Together, he and Grace confront the thrills and challenges of raising a child head-on. But when his family is faced with a sudden and inexplicable tragedy, Harrison’s instincts as a father and a pilot are put to test. The aftermath will haunt the Harrisons and strain their marriage as Jim struggles under the weight of his decisions. Beginning when the dust of the Second World War has only just begun to settle and rushing onward into the Sixties, Benjamin Johncock traces the path of this young couple as they are uprooted by events much larger than themselves. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally charged periods in American history, The Last Pilot is a mesmerizing debut novel of loss and finding courage in the face of it from an extraordinary new talent.

I’ve never read a novel taking place quite in this setting, and reading about pilots during the space race was quite exciting. I found myself quite attached to the Harrison family as they face the triumphs and pitfalls of the life of a top test pilot. They make the best of their life, brought together for their love for one another and their only child Florence. Jim loves his career, and his family even more. But tragedy strikes and this family finds itself suddenly torn apart. The struggles they face and the anxieties the have are heightened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the on going fear of the Cold War.

What I loved about this novel was the emotion of the characters and how true to life they were. Jim and Grace have a wonderful relationship, but it isn’t always perfect. Their marriage becomes strained in times of devastation. They are not always able to cope with things falling apart in their lives and they are not immune to being pulled apart by tragedy. They love one another through everything, but this story demonstrates the reality that love is not always enough. Especially in grief, these two are not always able to provide the support and stability they each need.

My only criticism of this book is that I thought there’d be a much greater focus on the space race than there was. While it was well integrated with the familial story of the Harrisons, I felt as though the subplots addressing the development of NASA’s astronaut program suddenly switched to Grace’s point of view, that of a housewife at home while her husband is constantly away at work. While it was interesting, and Grace faces some struggles with the other space wives, I think I would have liked to see more of the training, the test flights, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is quite a lot of this already, and many of you may love the balance that this novel finds between familial drama, history, and technological development, I personally would have like to read more about the space endeavours.

I really enjoyed Johncock’s novel. It was easy to read with relatable characters and a touching and heart-breaking plot.

Review: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

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Title: Survivor

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Publication Date: 1999

ISBN: 9780393338072

Survivor

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Tender Branson—last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult—is dictating his life story into Flight 2039’s recorder. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah. Unpredictable and unforgettable, Survivor is Chuck Palahniuk at his deadpan peak: a mesmerizing, unnerving, and hilarious satire on the wages of fame and the bedrock lunacy of the modern world.

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I must have read this book a few years ago, but I have no recollection of actually sitting down to read it. A friend has been after me to read this book and the premise sounded interesting. But when I finally sat down to read it last week, I got a few pages in and began to realize this book was so very familiar. With a protagonist with a name like Tender Branson, one can’t forget. But somehow, I seem to have lost all recollection of reading it. I think this is why I’m so on the fence about this book. It clearly didn’t stick in my memory the first time, but I was interested enough in the plot to give it another try.

This is the only Palanhiuk that I’ve ever read, and I think I’d try another of his novels. Any suggestions anyone? I once heard that Palaniuk novels are among the most stolen from bookstores. Perhaps that’s an indication that I should give him another try. But I can’t say that Survivor is one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. It was enjoyable, but nothing stellar. All in all, just a mediocre book I’m sorry to say.

Review: Night by Elie Wiesel

1617Title: Night

Author: Elie Wiesel

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher: Hill and Wang

ISBN: 9780374500016

Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.

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Night should be a mandatory book in every high school history class about the Holocaust. At once devastating and accessible, Night shares Elie Wiesel’s experience in Nazi Germany and his survival of the concentration camps. This story is profoundly powerful and incredibly terrible. I have many friends who read this book for class while still in high school. My knowledge of the Holocaust came more from books that I read on my own, WWII movies, or television documentaries, and less from the textbook reading that we were assigned in class. Night is an honest and raw portrayal of the slow round up of the Jewish citizens, their relocation to the camps, and the horrors they faced there.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to run into a few people who have only a vague idea of the Holocaust, if they know what it is at all. I find this incredibly sad that we live in a world where people are walking around not knowing that this tragedy took place. The one thing I want to say to these people is read this book. It does not over embellish. It also does not minimize or downplay. It is as honest as it could possibly. Weisel’s objective is to tell his story and to share his knowledge, and he does so with clarify and factuality.

Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

22716447*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

ISBN: 9780804138147

Why Not Me?

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behaviour modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you. Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

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As a devout lover of The Mindy Project, I was extremely exciting to be given the opportunity to review Mindy Kaling’s latest memoir. Although I haven’t read her first book, it has now been added to my list of books to check out. Mindy’s writing is so clearly her own voice, you can almost hear her reading it too you. She’s hilarious, no doubt about it. Using a combination of anecdotes, opinions, and pictures, Kaling shares her take on  her own past experiences, adding a comical flair to her stories.

I feel like if we ever met, Mindy and I could be really good friends in real life. She finds a humorous spin to every experience. Plus, she has the world’s greatest wardrobe! I find her to be honest and down to earth. She uses her flaws and her memories to be funny without being self-deprecating. She owns her body, she owns her humour, and she owns her opinions; although she acknowledges that she’s not always the confident woman that she seems. She’s so easy to relate to and it’s great to see a successful, funny woman in Hollywood who doesn’t let anything get in her way. I think Kaling is a great role model. Her writing style and her thoughts on life are so inspiring and make me so happy. She’s had incredible life experiences (i.e. dinner at the White House…Hello Obama family!) and she’s met many hilarious people. There’s no way you wont enjoy (or at least be entertained to some extent) but Kaling’s latest. I am now officially counting down to the new season of The Mindy Project.