I read Morrison's novel Beloved years ago (in high school actually, I think). While I don't really even remember what the story line was, I do remembe...moreI read Morrison's novel Beloved years ago (in high school actually, I think). While I don't really even remember what the story line was, I do remember loving the lyrical writing style.
I was a little worried as I started the first chapter as it begins in the voice of Florens, whose dialect is extremely thick. I wasn't sure I'd make it through the whole book in that voice. However, I soon discovered that the voice changes with each chapter and while each is unique, none are quite as difficult as Florens. With that said, even her voice became easier to read (and more lyrical) as the characters and plot lines developed.
Wild is certainly a good word to describe the place and time of this book. While there are certainly examples of goodness and hope in both events and people, there are also a strong presence of corruption and despair as well...the true dichotomy of life in this earlier period of development in our country.
While it's nice to have a nice tidy, happy ending, you won't find it in this novel. What you will find is a novel that is though-provoking and beautiful in its complexity of character and plot. (less)
Grissom's The Kitchen House is just the kind of historical fiction that I've always loved. To be honest, I would have never guessed that this was her...moreGrissom's The Kitchen House is just the kind of historical fiction that I've always loved. To be honest, I would have never guessed that this was her first novel.
I found her characters to be complex and believable. The plot line kept me guessing a bit, but there weren't any ridiculous or forced plot twists that I've found in a few other recent reads that turn me off. It is clear that Grissom did her research in writing this novel.
The narrator of the novel alternates between two of the main character, Lavinia and Belle, with each chapter which I found quite interesting. Both characters are well-defined and offer a unique perspective on the overall story.
The ONLY thing that bothered me (just a little) about the novel, was that the dialect(s) were clear among the slave characters, however Lavinia's accent is completely absent...even though it is referenced early on in the novel that she can be hard to understand at times because her Irish dialect is so strong. Just seems like one detail that wasn't carried through considering the detail and consistency found in the rest of the novel.
Despite this, if you are a fan of historical fiction, I DO NOT think that you will be disappointed by The Kitchen House!! It's a great read!(less)
I LOVED Water for Elephants and honestly, was looking forward to reading Ape House. Same author...it should be just as good, if not better, right?
Not...moreI LOVED Water for Elephants and honestly, was looking forward to reading Ape House. Same author...it should be just as good, if not better, right?
Not right. And now that I've read a few reviews from others, it seems I'm not the only one who was more than a little disappointed.
I'm sure that Gruen was trying to keep the plot line moving with all her twists and turns, but it all ended up feeling trite and some of the 'coincidences' that she used to connect characters (like a contrived paternity plot that was just silly from the start) were just TOO forced. Nothing seemed to develop naturally.
If the characters weren't totally and completely cliche (the monstrous mother-in-law, the Russian prostitute, the rebellious college intern), they completely whiny and inconsistent - or consistently whiny - like John and his wife, Amanda.
The ONLY parts of the book that I honestly enjoyed featured the bonobos. This is one area where you could tell the author had done her homework. I had not been aware of the Great Ape Trust and the amazing things that are going on there. It's actually not even that far away from where I live (about 5 hours).
I only wish she would have given the rest of her characters the same attention and took a little more time to make her plot lines a bit more believable.(less)
If I were using a star rating, I think the highest that I could go on this one would be 2.5.
While I greatly empathized with the hardship, and later gr...moreIf I were using a star rating, I think the highest that I could go on this one would be 2.5.
While I greatly empathized with the hardship, and later grief, that this family was going through and realize that this has been and still is a reality for far too many families in our country, there were several character development issues that I couldn't quite get passed.
Not that I am any expert on child behavior, but I couldn't get past the feeling that the author hasn't spent much time around children and/or teenagers. The 8-year-old daugther in the novel, Ellie, was a bit too precocious to be believable. In response to some of words and actions of Alice and other same-age characters, I just found myself furrowing my brow and thinking to myself, "Really?"
Then, there is the mother, Angie. I felt like I was being led (by the author) to empathize with her as well, but couldn't feel anything but a slight disgust for her as this supposedly adult, professional women basically fell apart and completely neglected her children. Not that I don't believe that this can happen...I am very well aware that there are mothers who certainly do neglect their children. However, I didn't feel that the author had offered enough evidence in Angie's character leading up to the event that made this response believable.
All of this left me wondering if the author was a mother herself, so I did a little research and could not find any reference to her having children anywhere.
I usually read before I go to sleep...not every night, but most...generally just a chapter or two.
However, with Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel by S.J....moreI usually read before I go to sleep...not every night, but most...generally just a chapter or two.
However, with Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel by S.J. Watson, I had a hard time putting it down each night. There always seemed to be some twist around the corner that I found myself wanting to read 'just one more chapter'!
While in the end I ended up LOVING this book, it the first few chapters, I did have a nagging concern.
Basically, every chapter starts the same. Christine wakes up and doesn't know where she is and thinks she is 20+ years younger than she is, but is soon confronted with the fact that nothing is as she thinks. I thought, "How can the author possibly relive this realization in every chapter of the book and keep it from getting painfully redundant.
Well, it didn't take me long to realize that Watson is an amazing storyteller and there is nothing redundant about the unraveling of this plot line. In fact, it's hard to believe that this is Watson first novel, but it is.
I have to admit, I thought that I had the 'don't trust Ben' plot twist figured out about half way through the book, but still had an inkling of doubt that made me keep reading. In the end, the twist was totally NOT what I thought it was and something oh so much more sinister (and genius!).
I've read some great books, but I do think Before I Go to Sleep is my favorite so far for 2011! I definitely recommend this novel who is looking for a suspenseful page-turner.(less)
The story is intriguing, no doubt, and while there several things that I really liked about this book, there were a few things that I mildly disliked...moreThe story is intriguing, no doubt, and while there several things that I really liked about this book, there were a few things that I mildly disliked as well.
Let's start with what I liked.
First of all, the prose is SO beautiful...often quite poetic which was a feast for my imagination. The scenes and characters really came to life as I was reading.
I have always been a fan of cultural and historical novels and this one fits both. There is a very strong infusion of the Chinese culture even though the novel is set primarily in California. The entire novel has overtones of the Chinese myth of water ghosts which adds and ethereal quality to the story. I also liked the fact that there is some fact to the fiction. While these precise characters and story are fictional, Locke was a real community populated by Chinese immigrants; primarily men who had to leave their women behind in China.
Okay, now for the things that keep me from giving this novel 5 stars...
First of all, the character from which the story is told changes from chapter to chapter and while this does help to develop each of the characters at a deeper level, it did make it a little harder to get a grasp on the story in the early part of the book.
On top of that, the author also shifts time periods throughout the book...same issue...just makes the story a little hard to follow at times.
My only other complaint is that there are no quotation marks! Sometimes I found myself thinking, "Did they (the character) say that...or just think it?" (See, quotations help!)
Despite my last few comments, I have to say that due to the haunting story, the complex characters and the lovely prose, I am still quite happy that I saw this novel through to the end.(less)
A die-hard fan of historical fiction, this book was right up my alley. While this book is fiction, it is important to not that the Katyn Order - the m...moreA die-hard fan of historical fiction, this book was right up my alley. While this book is fiction, it is important to not that the Katyn Order - the murder of Polish officers and civilians - does exist and did happen. I especially enjoy fiction that weaves in truth and it was obvious that Jacobson has done his research.
Previously, I had not know of this particular piece of WWII history and found the details both interesting and disturbing.
This book is a wonderful, non-stop thriller that I could easily imagine being made into a movie. The characters are real and complex and the action is exciting and engaging.
I must admit, there was quite a twist at the end of the novel. However, considering the events of this particular period of our history, I probably should not have been as surprised as I found myself to be.
My only criticism of the book is the relationship that develops between Adam and Natalia. Somehow it just seemed somewhat forced to me. While I found Natalia to be a believable character in the novel apart from her interactions with Adam, there were times that I found her behavior uncharacteristic and inconsistent when she was with Adam.
However, their relationship only takes up a small portion of the novel, so it is hardly a reason not to read the book. In my opinion, it came across as any great action movie that has to have a little romance thrown in for good measure. :-) (less)