Tag Archives: Book Reviews

The Invention of Wings; Sue Monk Kidd

Historical fiction novel about two sisters who grew up in a slave owning Charleston family in the early 1800’s and eventually became abolitionists in the North.  The novel goes back and forth between the point of view of the older sister, Sarah Grimke, and the slave, Hetty, that was given to Sarah as her personal slave on her 11th birthday.  Enjoyable book to read that I would recommend, yet another awful example of the history of our country.

PJH rating: ****

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette; Maria Semple

Bernadette is a reclusive ex very famous architect who lives in Seattle as part of an uber couple with her high powered Microsoft husband and their teen aged daughter.  Bernadette goes missing after a great series of events involving her past history and her present craziness.  I have avoided this book as I thought it was trashy chick lit… but I loved it and read it straight through all last Sunday.  It would be a great beach book. Chick lit I suppose… but a great, fun, satirical story told in an original way.  Highly recommend.

PJH Rating: ****1/2

 

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We Are Water; Wally Lamb

A woman is getting remarried to another woman sets the present time for the story of a family told from the viewpoints of the different family members.  The mom, who grew up an orphan after a flood killed her mother and sister and turned her father into a drunk; her ex-husband who is a psychologist but recently retired early; their three children etc etc.  Lots of different stories.  I have enjoyed all of Wally Lamb’s books, I thought this novel was OK, but found it a bit forced at times.

PJH Rating: ***1/2

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The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer

Six teenagers make a pack at their performing arts summer camp in the early ’80s to always be friends.  The novel centers around Jules, one of the six who isn’t quite as “interesting” as the others and follows her and the other six throughout the following decades.  I enjoyed it but felt it was a bit long and boring in parts – especially the end.  It would have been better if edited down a bit.

PJH Rating: ****

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The Goldfinch; Donna Tart

A teenage boy’s mother dies when they are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a terrorist bomb goes off.  The boy ends up taking “The Goldfinch” – a priceless 17th century painting-  in his dream like escape from the museum.  The novel follows Theo for the next few decades and his adventures that are always haunted by his possession and obsession with the Goldfinch.
A top novel on most fiction lists for 2013.  It is quite a hefty one, 900 pgs + on Overdrive, but I enjoyed it and have been pretty wrapped up in it all week long with my week long cold.  It is completely amazing to me the talent someone has to come up with a story like this out of thin air and to write it in such an eloquent way.

I love the last paragraph:

“That life – whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”

PJH rating: ***1/2

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Me Before You; Jojo Moyes

Set in small country village outside of London, Louisa becomes the caregiver for Will who is a quadriplegic after being a successful businessman and athlete.  Louisa learns that Will wants to end his life via assisted suicide and tries to make him less depressed so he will change his mind.  Chic lit but not terrible.

PJH Rating: ***1/2

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This is Where I Leave You; Jonathan Tropper

Judd returns to his mother’s home to sit shiva for seven days along with his flamboyant mother, two brothers and a sister and their assorted families and significant others.  Typical and over the top mayhem ensues.  Fun, often laugh out loud story.  Being made into a movie I just read… with good casting: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver (Hannah’s creepy yet lovable boyfriend on Girls) – should be good.

PJH rating: ****

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The Fault in Our Stars; John Green

Two teenagers, one in late stage cancer and another in remission, meet at a support group and become boyfriend/girlfriend.  They end up traveling to Amsterdam together to visit the author of a book that brought them together.  A good book about teenagers, friendship and death.  Lost some steam in the end… becoming a bit too sappy.  A quick, fulfilling read though – I read it straight through on Wednesday 6:00 PM in the bathtub until 11:30 at night.

PJH Rating: ****

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The Good Lord Bird; James McBride

Historical fiction account of abolitionist James Brown who led the attack on Harper’s Ferry that spurred the start of the Civil War.  Told from the view point of “Onion”, a 14 year old boy slave who ends up dressing up as a girl during his years with Brown.  The novel was the 2013 winner of the National Book Award for fiction and on many top 10 lists for the year.  While I found it a bit lengthy and hard to get through at times, it is very original, well written and a good read.

PJH Rating: ****

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown; Holly Black

Our 17 year old protagonist wakes up in the house from the previous night’s house party to find all the other teenagers dead and several hungry vampires trying to get her.  The world has developed “Coldtowns” in each big city where all the vampires are exiled to live out their un-lives.  The girl finds herself in one of these and the typical vampire teenage hi jinx ensue.  Not sure how this one got in my queue but it was sort of fun to read – pretty gory for AYA fiction.

PJH rating: ***

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