The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner is a young adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction novel. I thought that I would like it, since I had read and loved the Hunger Games series, but honestly, it fell short and I was really disappointed.

The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe main character Thomas wakes up in a strange place called the Glade with no memories of who he is or how he got there. The Glade is surrounded by walls and outside the walls is a Maze. The boys living in the Glade (who by the way also have no memory of who they are) have to run this Maze every day in order to “solve” it. They also must avoid “Grievers” who are monster-things that live in the Maze.

The characters have little to no depth and the storyline is somewhat boring and predictable–there is little to no action until the end of the book, and the ending was, well, just stupid and ruined the whole book.

Maybe the movie is better.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Maze Runner http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6186357-the-maze-runner

Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim

In 1923, Mei Ling’s older sister falls gravely ill a few days before her arranged marriage to a man she has never met.  Mei Ling is forced to take her’s sister place.  Leaving her family in China, Mei Ling travels to America.  In order to enter the country, Mei Ling must assume the identity of the man’s deceased wife, essentially using her immigration documents as her own (a “Paper Wife”).

the paper wife

When Mei Ling befriends a young orphan girl on the ship to America, little did she know that she was creating a bond for life.  When it is Mei Ling’s turn to leave Angel Island (the unfriendly place where immigrants were housed until their entry application was approved) she is forced to leave Siew behind.  Making good on her promise to see Siew again, Mei Ling searches for the child to ensure that she is safe, only to find that Siew’s Uncle wasn’t who he appeared to be, and that Siew herself was a paper child.  This dark revelation has a damaging impact on Mei Ling and her family, who must fight to overcome the reality of Siew’s situation.

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The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Cassie is a lot of things, an alcoholic, party girl, and least of all, a flight attendant–but is she a murderer too?  That’s the opening question in this entertaining book about international intrigue and espionage.

Fllight attendant

Cassie wakes up in a swanky Dubai hotel, after getting black out drunk, to find that her handsome, rich, hook-up has been murdered in the bed next to her. His throat is slashed, and there is blood Ev.ery.where.  Due to the fact that she blacked out, she has absolutely no idea whether she was the one who killed him, which leads her to do many stupid and incriminating things (i.e., wipe down her finger prints, leave the hotel without notifying anyone, etc.)

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I really liked Little Fires Everywhere.  Opening with a fire in the Richardsons’ home, this book delves into the past to tell the story of the complicated reasons why one of the main characters and the black sheep of the family, Izzy Richardson, set her family home ablaze. “Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”

The main theme of this book is what makes a mother a mother? Blood alone or love? The author carries this theme through 3 main storylines (which I will not divulge as it would spoil the overall story).

At the center of the book are two families, the Warrens and the Richardsons, and more precisely the juxtaposition between the matriarch of each family, Mia Warren and Elena Richardson.  “One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules… was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.”

Little Fires Everywhere

Mia Warren, an artist, and her daughter Pearl, decided to end their nomadic existence in Shaker Height Ohio, a planned suburban community.  They rent an apartment from the Richardsons, who have 4 children of their own.  Thinking that she will not have to move around anymore, Pearl allows herself to finally make friends, and befriends each of the Richardson children — their relationships blossom in different ways, and are fraught with all the complications of teenage relationships.

This book is centered around the relationship between the Warrens and Richardsons and is told through many interwoven and sometimes complicated threads.  The story also touches on themes of race, white privilege, motherhood, and family secrets.

I was particularly moved by the back story of the Chinese immigrant who abandoned her child in a misguided attempt to give the baby away for adoption, only to regret the choice and fight for the baby’s return. The Court case centered on whether it was in the best interests of the child to be adopted by a privileged family (mother + father with good jobs), or the biological, single, mother, who struggled to make ends meat.

As Eleanor Henderson writes for the New York Times: “The magic of this novel lies in its power to implicate all of its characters — and likely many of its readers — in that innocent delusion. Who set the little fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands.”

Check out this book on Goodreads: Little Fires Everywhere http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34273236-little-fires-everywhere

It by Stephen King

This great book has all the elements of a classic Stephen King novel: 1) good vs. evil; 2) something supernatural; and 3) both weird and oddly believable.  Stephen King who is one of my favorite authors began this book in 1981, and finished it in 1985. It is over 1,000 pages long (on audio book it is about 44 hours of listening)! It took me about a month to read, but it is well worth the time!

It

The first time I read this book was in 1998, when I was 15 years old.  Actually, I believe that this book was my introduction to the world of Stephen King — and I can honestly say, that I have loved everything I have read from this story weaving genius.  I have not had the opportunity to read all of his books (there are so many!), but It stands out there on a golden limb, together with other classic Stephen King books like Carrie and the Shining.

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The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

When their friend commits suicide, a trio of friends from law school, smothering under the weight of large student loans, decide to quit law school in their last semester and go into practice without a license.  In the process, they take on the machine behind the law school loan racquet, fraudulently joining a class action (more than 1,000 times under fake names) against the bank backing the predatory lending, to exact revenge against the unfair practice of enticing impressionable young people to enroll in a low tier law school.

This book really resonated with me, as I was once myself a law school student in at a law school that was definetely not an ivy league school.  Upon leaving law school, I was crushed under a debt of around $150,000, and was expected, without a job, to pay back nearly $1,700 a month in principal + interest, at varying interest rates, some as high as 8%.  I suffered under this debt for nearly 10 years and paid well over $150,000, only to move to Austria, where students go to school (even University and law school) virtually for free — paying only nominal expenses.

This book not only gets it right about the predatory lending scheme of law school, and university in general in the United States, but tells a fun story of 3 students who weren’t going to take it anymore and who decided to do something about it.  While reading this book, I couldn’t help but to relate to the characters and their plight.

I have read other books by John Grisham, but this one is by far my favorite.