On a whim, three American socialites decide to venture across the Atlantic to hunt down the infamous Loch Ness monster. Oh, and did I mention3.5 stars
On a whim, three American socialites decide to venture across the Atlantic to hunt down the infamous Loch Ness monster. Oh, and did I mention all this takes place with World War II raging in the background?! Another reviewer referred to this book as "The Great Gatsby meets Outlander" and, yes, that's a great way to sum it up. This was a quick, but interesting, read …. not as beautiful and thought-provoking as Water for Elephants, but unique and enjoyable in its own right.
The book starts off really slow and it took me a good 100+ pages before I was truly invested in the story. That said, it was worth the wait as things definitely picked up in the second half! There are quite a few themes at play in At The Water's Edge but what stood out most was the portrayal of classism in 1940s society. I thought Sara Gruen did a brilliant job of illustrating the social expectations and tensions between the classes. It was fascinating to see how, in a world torn apart by war and brutality, some continued to cling to their social identities, prejudices and sense of entitlement while others broke through these barriers, determined to serve the greater good.
I docked stars for two reasons … First of all, there's a whole lot of "info dumping" that takes place. Every so often there would be random paragraphs loaded with dates, statistics and detailed descriptions of WWII battles. These sections read more like a history textbook than a novel and, honestly, they added nothing to the overall story. Secondly, I thought the ending was a little rushed and unrealistic. I realize "unrealistic" is an unusual complaint since the book has hints of magical realism scattered throughout (the Loch Ness monster, a ghost, prophetic crows, etc) … but I just felt the ending could have been stronger and better developed. ...more
The Sweet Life in Paris isn't so much about food and desserts as it is about everyday life in Paris. If you think Paris is overrated, then y2.5 stars
The Sweet Life in Paris isn't so much about food and desserts as it is about everyday life in Paris. If you think Paris is overrated, then you'll probably love this book! It's full of "commentary" (aka: complaints) on French culture and Parisian quirks. Here are some of the highlights -
"French people don't wait in line ... French people don't pee as often as Americans ... Ordering a bottle of water in a French restaurant is a VERY complicated ordeal ... French people don't pick up their dog poop ... French salespeople don't like to help patrons and suck at customer service ... Don't touch anything in a French store or you'll be expected to purchase it ... French coffee is the absolute worst."
There were a few chapters that I enjoyed and I did learn a thing or two - but, overall, not my cup of tea. Too much whining and not enough chocolate!...more
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver was inspired by the famous "Migrant Mother" photograph taken by Dorothea Lange in the 1930s. The photo has become an iconicMary Coin by Marisa Silver was inspired by the famous "Migrant Mother" photograph taken by Dorothea Lange in the 1930s. The photo has become an iconic symbol of the Great Depression and this book tells a fictionalized account of the woman in the picture and the photographer behind the lens. Names have been changed (Dorothea Lange becomes Vera Dare, for example) but most of the other known facts surrounding the photo and its subject remain the same. Marisa Silver takes the little information we have about the Migrant Mother (real name: Florence Owens Thompson) and embellishes it with a powerful narrative about migration, motherhood, desperation and tenacity.
This book is not perfect and it has its flaws - I thought Walker was an unnecessary character and I didn't feel his voice added much to the overall story. The story spans almost a full century and the book is not written in chronological order. The jumping around from present day to 1930s to present day to 1950s and so on was confusing at times. That said, I still loved the book. I thought it was beautifully written, I loved how character driven it was, I appreciated the strong female protagonists ... they were broken, but determined to overcome; ambitious, proud and brave.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading more about this period in history and those who prefer character driven narratives. ...more
I thought this story was absolutely hysterical; I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so often while reading a book. The middle dragged onI thought this story was absolutely hysterical; I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so often while reading a book. The middle dragged on a little but, overall, a really enjoyable read. ...more
Let me be clear - generally speaking, I'm a pretty conservative reader. I try and steer clear of harlequinesque romance books; steamy sex scenes justLet me be clear - generally speaking, I'm a pretty conservative reader. I try and steer clear of harlequinesque romance books; steamy sex scenes just aren't my thing. From the book jacket description, I knew adultery was going to be a theme in Hausfrau but I didn't realize it was going to be such a major theme. As in, sex scenes and reference to sex in nearly every chapter. In fact, there was so much vulgarity and so many graphic sex scenes in this book that I almost gave up on it, several times. Wow, am I ever glad I didn't!
Hausfrau is one of the most challenging books I've ever read as far as content goes, but it was so, so worth it. Beautifully written; a heartbreaking, disturbing story of a woman whose life is spiralling out of control. It made me cry and I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry (answer: 4). Definitely not light reading and not for the faint of heart. ...more
The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen is set in Cologne, Germany during the Middle Ages. The story follows Adelaide and her family as a de3.5 stars
The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen is set in Cologne, Germany during the Middle Ages. The story follows Adelaide and her family as a deadly fever sweeps through the region, killing hundreds. There is tremendous oppression from the church and its corrupt officials, which stirs up talk of rebellion and political unrest among the people. Needless to say, it is a dangerous time to be coming of age. Adelaide is young and in love, but she is also in deep mourning as the world she knows crumbles to pieces. I thought the author did a great job of capturing the tension Adelaide felt as she struggled to make sense of the changes happening all around her and within her own heart.
Based on the book's title and description, I assumed it would be a retelling of Snow White. While there were some similarities between Adelaide and the character of Snow White, I didn't see much of the traditional fairytale reflected in the plot. Bits and pieces of other fairytales are also woven throughout the story, hence the title "The Fairytale Keeper" …. but, to be completely honest, I didn't think they were necessary. In my opinion, the whole fairytale aspect didn't really add anything to the plot and the historical context of the story was interesting enough on its own.
I found the first half of the book a little slow and repetitive, but things started picking up about halfway through. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the book, which was more historical fiction than fairytale retelling. I'm looking forward to reading this book's sequel! ...more