I thoroughly enjoyed this opening book of a proposed trilogy by Sally Green. Other reviewers have already given thorough plot overviews so I won't bea...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this opening book of a proposed trilogy by Sally Green. Other reviewers have already given thorough plot overviews so I won't beat a dead horse there, but I will add that I thought it was very, very well written. It is marketed as a Young Adult novel and I must admit I was a little taken aback by that, for if so it is a very adult YA book. (To clarify, I'll just say that there are many Young Adult novels that can also be classified as Middle Readers. This book is NOT one of them.) There are some very dark themes in the book and that is what makes the story so wonderful. Our protagonist, Nathan, is grappling with his own identity (is he good or bad by nature? It certainly isn't a foregone conclusion here); his mother committed suicide due to her own son; his father is a murderer....these things are quite dark and not at all presented in a GOOD v EVIL manner.
Personally, I would have no problem with my teens or pre-teens reading this novel, but that is my own decision as a parent and I realize that not all parents are as open as I am with books and their kids. But I would encourage all parents to read it with an open mind. The world is full of shades of gray and this is something we all are confronted with as we mature into our teen years (what a shocker that is to find out that that not everything is about the Good Guys Winning the Day). Green does a marvelous job reflecting this in Nathan's world and he is suddenly faced with having to use his own common sense to discern what is right and what is wrong amid all these shades of gray. The story may be a fantasy, but the problems Nathan face are universal.(less)
I've seen this title on a couple of 2014 Dystopia "to watch for" lists so when I saw it available here on Amazon, I grabbed it right away. I'm glad I...moreI've seen this title on a couple of 2014 Dystopia "to watch for" lists so when I saw it available here on Amazon, I grabbed it right away. I'm glad I did. In The Detainee, future elderly, poor, sick, and indigent members of society are sent to live on the Island. Society has washed their hands of them. The Island is an isolated, forgotten mountain of garbage completely separated from the mainland and no one ever escapes, except through death. Those left here to die live by digging through the stinking refuse, stretching rotted canvas to make their own 'tent city' and trying to escape the punishment satellites that deliver instant 'justice' for any crime committed. In short, it is a living nightmare.
But when 'Big Guy' Clancy, an aging mafia enforcer living out his remaining days on the Island, discovers a network of tunnels deep under the garbage that layers the Island, a potential means of escape may have been found. Hope - not just for himself but for all of the Island's discarded humanity - just may exist.
Liney created a frighteningly believable world in The Detainee, one in which a selfish society - one that blames the sick and impoverished for all of society's problems - finally takes the final steps and does the unthinkable. By dehumanizing other human beings (something that has been done throughout history in it's darkest moments), Liney shows just how possible his fictional scenario really is. Big Guy Clancy is a memorable protagonist, warts and all, and I think this novel will be a hit with dystopia lovers this spring. Well done.(less)
The story of a divorcing couple and the young attorney representing the wife in the divorce, The Divorce Papers is notable for it's unique format. The...moreThe story of a divorcing couple and the young attorney representing the wife in the divorce, The Divorce Papers is notable for it's unique format. The story is told entirely via interoffice memos, the divorce legal file itself, emails, and notes. There are two parallel storylines here, that of Sophie, the young attorney who unwittingly finds herself representing the wealthy soon-to-be ex-wife of a prominent physician and that of Mia, the wife herself. I suspect that the author intended Sophie to be the chief protagonist in the story, but as sometimes happens, Mia steals the show. As a reader, I never became invested or all that interested in Sophie's personal plights (relationships, parental angst, etc and so on), whereas our soon-to-be divorcee was laugh out loud funny and I actually found her to be a far more developed character.
While your mileage may vary, it was the unique formatting that saved the book for me. It kept me entertained and engaged (and allowed me to skim over Sophie's tedious whining emails about her personal life). I enjoyed the obvious marital law knowledge the author brought to the book and once again, her divorcing couple was - in a tragic way - sometimes delightfully funny, if that is possible. I've already recommended the book to several friends, if for no other reason than to drive home the fact that unless the situation is extremely dire, you do NOT want to put yourself or your children through the horror of divorce.(less)
I should begin by saying this novel by Jenny Offill is not the kind of fare I would normally read and I only picked it up at the insistent urging of s...moreI should begin by saying this novel by Jenny Offill is not the kind of fare I would normally read and I only picked it up at the insistent urging of several friends. The average reader might categorize this short (160 pages) novel as very 'literary' or artsy in format, but bear with me for a few moments...
This is the story (in my opinion, at least) of a woman on the verge of a breakdown. We never know her name for she only ever refers to herself as "the wife." The story is presented to us as a series of what might be seen as journal entries, but I came to see them as just plain thoughts. Her thoughts as they popped into her head. So we only see things from her point of view. We learn that she is a college professor, married with one child ("the girl"), lives in New York and is very, very unfulfilled in her life.
Then, a marital crisis.
The book is easily read in one afternoon. As I noted at the start of this review, this format (random thoughts) is not my normal chosen fare in books. Yet I found myself captivated. This was a woman in crisis. She isn't entirely sympathetic (who amongst us is perfect?), but neither is she to blame. Like so many wives and mothers, she is questioning the direction her life took (although she would lay down her life for her child). Because it is written in 'thought format' the book feels, at first, disjointed. But as I kept reading it occurred to me that my own thoughts are often disjointed in the same manner. I was slipping into her head, if that makes sense.
Ultimately, the end of the book provides no answers to these dilemmas we face. But the book itself is so chock-full of snippets of truth that I find I must now go back and re-read the book, this time with a notebook and pen at hand. While I've never considered myself a fan of edgy, artsy (not a real word, I know) literary fiction, this book surprised me. I'm impressed.(less)
Excellent third installment of The Olympians series. Riordan hasn't slipped one iota in his character development and plotting. My children love it an...moreExcellent third installment of The Olympians series. Riordan hasn't slipped one iota in his character development and plotting. My children love it and as the adult who is reading these aloud to them, I continue to be impressed.(less)
A literary thriller that forces the reader to pay close attention and hang on for the ride, A Burnable Book takes us to Chaucer's London - 1385 - wher...moreA literary thriller that forces the reader to pay close attention and hang on for the ride, A Burnable Book takes us to Chaucer's London - 1385 - where a heretical book has gone missing and everyone from the highest nobility to the lowest prostitute wants to find it, albeit for different reasons. Narrated by John Gower, a close friend of Chaucer and notable English poet himself, the importance of the missing book is gradually revealed throughout the novel. From the treason-tainted halls of John of Gaunt and his infamous mistress Katherine Swynford waft the seeds of rebellion against the newly-crowned English King Richard II, where the missing book could provide information that could elevate Gaunt to the crown or destroy him forever. Poet Geoffrey Chaucer has his own reasons for desperately seeking the missing book but discerning those reasons is more difficult than navigating the back streets of 14th century London. Whatever his reasons, he is willing to manipulate anyone and everyone - risking lifelong friendships in the process - in order to get his hands on the missing book.
The book proves even more elusive when it accidentally falls into the hands of a common street prostitute - one smart enough to know what she has is valuable, even if she isn't entirely sure why. The chase is on.....and people are about to find out that their life is cheaper than a book.
The end result is a helluva ride through medieval London, thanks to Holsinger's intense knowledge of the period - he is a medievalist professor at the University of Virginia's English Department - which results the most fun a reader can have while receiving a history lesson. Nothing about this novel is spoon-fed; keep up or drop out of the game. But I can confirm that it is worth your while to keep up - this is one of the best historical thrillers I have yet to read. Smart, fast-paced, and requiring reader intelligence....a little slice of heaven right here. Highly recommended.(less)
As much as I love reading non-fiction history, I admit that it is rare to find a book that is so riveting it reads like fiction. But Jager has written...moreAs much as I love reading non-fiction history, I admit that it is rare to find a book that is so riveting it reads like fiction. But Jager has written such a book. Paris in the early 1400s was a political mess. King Charles was certifiably crazy and unfit to rule most of the time, leaving a power vacuum that (of course) was constantly being fought over by other powerful nobles. When one of those nobles, Louis of Orleans, was murdered on the streets of Paris one dark night, all hell broke loose and the country very nearly fell into a devastating civil war.
Jager's book is not only a fascinating recounting of this hot political mess, but also the story of Guillaume de Tigonville, the chief law enforcement officer of Paris at the time of the murder and the man who had to solve this crime. The techniques he used, discovered on a piece of parchment centuries after they were recorded, are absolutely fascinating and completely relevant today. Jager writes a taut narrative and never lets the story lag for a moment. This is not your typical non-fiction. If you enjoy the writing of Erik Larson, I highly recommend you read Eric Jager's work. You won't be disappointed.(less)
I tagged this 2014 Edgar Award nominee as a mystery, but I'm not sure that is the appropriate genre. In fact, I would be hard pressed to tell you what...moreI tagged this 2014 Edgar Award nominee as a mystery, but I'm not sure that is the appropriate genre. In fact, I would be hard pressed to tell you what genre this novel actually is....so I will leave that to better minds than I and just tell you this is a fine novel. What we have here is an extraterrestrial who has come to earth to inhabit the body of one Andrew Martin, Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. Our alien has done so because Professor Martin has just solved a very important mathematical theory that would, if allowed to become public or known to any other human, lead to great technological advances for mankind. And as all extraterrestrial life out there in the vast reaches of the universe knows, that cannot be allowed to happen....humans being so destructive and ill-prepared for technology and all that.
So our story revolves around the observations of our alien as he tries to slip into the Professor's body and his life as he carries out his "mission" here on Earth. Along the way, his adventures learning our customs, language, and even our emotions are at times hysterically funny, insightful, endearing, and heartbreaking.
A lovely look at the human condition...indeed, what it means to be a human...from a very unique perspective. I loved it. Although I'm still scratching my head over its inclusion on the Edgar Award nominee list....it's not a mystery nor a thriller. Odd.(less)
Fascinating topic: a close look at the wives of the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury astronauts and the incredible pressure they were under, both from NASA...moreFascinating topic: a close look at the wives of the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury astronauts and the incredible pressure they were under, both from NASA and public expectations. The execution in this book was very disjointed, chiefly due to the sheer number of women the author was trying to track. This distracted from the overall theme of the book. It is a worthwhile read (a very sad read), but not stellar by any means.(less)
What's not to love? Rowell can do no wrong it seems. I have yet to see this woman misplace even one small comma. If you haven't read a Rowell novel, d...moreWhat's not to love? Rowell can do no wrong it seems. I have yet to see this woman misplace even one small comma. If you haven't read a Rowell novel, do so immediately. Even if you don't normally read Young Adult literature. You don't have to be a teenager or even a YA fan to appreciate this woman's talent.(less)
First of all, I must state that this is the first Margolin novel I have read, so I didn't come into this with any preconceived notions of what to expe...moreFirst of all, I must state that this is the first Margolin novel I have read, so I didn't come into this with any preconceived notions of what to expect (although I understand he is a very popular author). That said, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found: a fast-paced, well-plotted historical novel rooted in an actual legal case that took place in Oregon in the mid-1800s. When a white man relocated to Oregon from the South with his slaves he promised to free them once he got settled in Oregon (where slavery wasn't legal, which isn't to say that black people were welcome in Oregon...quite the opposite in fact). He only freed part of the slave family, keeping one for himself and this is the crux of the legal case that ensues and the novel.
Margolin does a fantastic job keeping the narrative moving along quickly and yet still creating fully developed characters. At no point does the novel get bogged down in legalese or lengthy descriptions as one might expect. Instead, Margolin expertly weaves the legal case and history with the action of the novel and as a result, I was consistently interested throughout and never once found myself bored or my attention wandering. Overall, I'd recommend the novel for any American history buff....especially anyone who enjoys the American West. Although this is historical fiction, the case it is based upon makes it a fascinating read.(less)