Just as charming as the first book. The kids I read this with especially enjoyed neon red crayon (trying to make his way home after being left at a moJust as charming as the first book. The kids I read this with especially enjoyed neon red crayon (trying to make his way home after being left at a motel) and pea green crayon (aka Esteban)....more
Excellent literary fiction about a first generation college student and her struggle to adjust to college and remain close with her family. Lizet is tExcellent literary fiction about a first generation college student and her struggle to adjust to college and remain close with her family. Lizet is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and is raised in a lower class neighborhood in Miami. The novel opens with Lizet coming home for a surprise Thanksgiving visit after the first few months at an elite liberal arts college in New York state. Lizet is having difficulty adjusting and is unable to tell her family about her academic probation (she failed to properly cite a source and is accused of plagiarism). Lizet's arrival home coincides with the arrival of Ariel Hernandez (a fictionalized Elian Gonzalez) and Lizet's mother soon becomes involved in the fight to keep Ariel in the US.
The rest of the novel traces the course of Lizet's first year in college - she brings up her grades and finds a passion in laboratory research while growing apart from her family and feeling she belongs to two worlds. Crucet does an excellent job exploring the struggles of first generation college students and the portrayal of Cuban culture in Miami feels authentic. The family dynamics are equally interesting. Lizet's father left the family after Lizet announced her intention to attend college out of state, her older sister is a single mother, and her mother becomes obsessed with the Ariel Hernandez cause to the extent that she ignores her own children.
Lizet is a fascinating character; she doesn't always make the right choices but her discovery of herself and her own desires is compelling. This is a rich novel filled with insight and empathy for its characters. Highly recommended. ...more
Teen paranormal thriller. I listened to this on audio so I didn't see any of the old photographs sprinkled throughout the text. I felt Jacob, the narrTeen paranormal thriller. I listened to this on audio so I didn't see any of the old photographs sprinkled throughout the text. I felt Jacob, the narrator and main character, had an authentic teen voice and was a sympathetic character. The plot - sort-of X-Men with a time travel angle - didn't do much for me and I found myself zoning out at various points. Okay but not the book for me....more
**spoiler alert** 3.5 Stars. Literary fiction about a marriage. The novel opens with Lotto and Mathilde as young newlyweds on a cold beach in Maine. T**spoiler alert** 3.5 Stars. Literary fiction about a marriage. The novel opens with Lotto and Mathilde as young newlyweds on a cold beach in Maine. The first section of the book (Fates) chronicles Lotto's privileged childhood, struggle to succeed in acting as a young man, and success as a playwright. It also describes his loving marriage to Mathilde. The second part of the novel (Furies) tells of Mathilde's childhood and some of the major events of the marriage from her point of view -- Mathilde reveals a very different version of events and things about her past that Lotto never knew.
I am glad that I continued reading this since I enjoyed the second part much more than the first. I found Lotto to be an annoying Golden Boy and the sections from his experimental/avant garde plays did not interest me at all. Mathilde and her fury and pain were much more interesting. However I did find some of the plotting lacking and Groff's poetic language might strike some as too overwritten. I liked this and could appreciate the craft but I enjoyed Arcadia by Groff much more.
I have seen this compared to Gone Girl and find that to be a flawed comparison. There are unlikeable main characters and the novel examines the nature of a marriage but the plotting, pace, genre, and tone are totally different. Readers wanting the next Gone Girl will be disappointed if they read this expecting lots of plot twists. ...more
I felt there were a lot of problems with the plotting in this novel and found the romance between Tom and Rose not very believable and coming right onI felt there were a lot of problems with the plotting in this novel and found the romance between Tom and Rose not very believable and coming right on the heels of the death of his mentally ill wife slightly distasteful. The characters are all flawed (two major ones are struggling with alcoholism) but not necessarily sympathetic or even that interesting. I also would have liked more atmosphere of the small Virginia college town that is the setting and more time spent on why many of the characters became English professors.
The publisher described this book as heartwarming and charming and many readers seem to agree, so I am obviously in the minority here. ...more
The latest in the Lynley/Havers mystery series remains in England for this outing and has Havers and Lynley investigating a death that appears naturalThe latest in the Lynley/Havers mystery series remains in England for this outing and has Havers and Lynley investigating a death that appears natural but is revealed to be a case of poison. Havers is trying to get back into the good graces of Isabelle Ardery and convinces Lynley to allow the boss to let them investigate. The beginning of the novel is lots of set-up with George introducing readers to the villains and victims before Havers and Lynley make their entrance. After several detours in the past novels focusing on Havers and Lynley working separately or grieving, in this book they do work more as a team and seem to be slowly healing from loss. The descriptions of sexual violence and abuse towards the end were stomach churning but the characterization of the borderline personality of the villain felt authentic and well-researched. ...more
**spoiler alert** 3.5 Stars. Historical Fiction about WWI and its aftermath. The novel opens with a party celebrating the coronation of Edward VII in**spoiler alert** 3.5 Stars. Historical Fiction about WWI and its aftermath. The novel opens with a party celebrating the coronation of Edward VII in suburban London and the reader is introduced to the main characters - a group of four sisters, and the neighborhood boys, who call themselves the pals. A few chapters later, the action has moved to the start of WWI and the boys (now young men) enlist. The main focus of the novel is on Rosie and her love for Ashbridge, the boy next door who dies early in the war. Rosie later marries Daniel, another member of the pals and struggles to love her husband while still mourning her first love.
There is lots of good period detail and charming eccentric secondary characters. Although this deals with war and loss, in some ways this is a feel good novel with a positive, hopeful ending. This novel hit the sweet spot for me with a time period and location that I love reading about. ...more
Humorous story about an older Swedish man who resolves to kill himself but things keep stopping him. Ove is a curmudgeon but as the story develops theHumorous story about an older Swedish man who resolves to kill himself but things keep stopping him. Ove is a curmudgeon but as the story develops the reader sees that he really has a huge heart. Although there is the potential suicide angle at the beginning that may turn some readers off, this is a heartwarming story about the power of human connection. light but not too light....more
3.5 Stars. Well-crafted women's fiction. The lives of three different women intersect over Holy Week in a Sydney suburb. Secrets are revealed with lif3.5 Stars. Well-crafted women's fiction. The lives of three different women intersect over Holy Week in a Sydney suburb. Secrets are revealed with life-changing consequences. Moriarty does a good job creating sympathy for characters who actions are often reprehensible. I was surprised by the strong Catholic slant of the novel and its examination of punishment and forgiveness. A good choice for readers of women's fiction and book discussion groups. ...more
Suspense novel about a bridal shower gone wrong. Nora is invited to the hen party of a friend from high school, Clare, who she hasn't seen in 10 yearsSuspense novel about a bridal shower gone wrong. Nora is invited to the hen party of a friend from high school, Clare, who she hasn't seen in 10 years. Curiosity (and the presence of another friend) compel her to go and the hen party turns out to be a weekend at a remote country house in the forest. Creepy things start happening at the hen party and chapters alternate between the deteriorating weekend and scenes of Nora in the hospital, with bruises and cuts all over her body trying to remember what happened before the police interrogate her.
This was a good beach read. The setting was creepy and atmospheric (it was disconcerting reading about snow and running through a cold forest while sitting on the beach)and the plot moved swiftly. I was able to figure out the twists before they were revealed but overall I was satisfied with the revelations. The main character was supposed to be a writer of crime fiction but she was rather dense and missed some obvious indications of lying. The characters were also all in their late 20s and several of the revelations centered on things that happened when they were 16. I thought the characterization and believability would have been better if the ages of the characters was increased and the events in the past had happened when Nora and Clare were in college.
A good suspense story to recommend to fans of Girl on the Train and similar psychological suspense books. ...more
Historical fiction about Gerald and Sara Murphy, best known as friends of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel begins with their childhHistorical fiction about Gerald and Sara Murphy, best known as friends of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel begins with their childhoods, their romance, and early marriage. The novel really takes off when the couple moves to the south of France and becomes friends with the literary crowd known as the Lost Generation. The third major character is Owen Chambers, a pilot who fought in WWI and meets Gerald and Sara on the Rivera. Gerald and Owen are drawn to each other and the novel explores their secret relationship and how it effects them.
I felt the novel really excelled at the depiction of many of the secondary characters (especially Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)while I found Gerald and Sara a bit distant. The descriptions of the various locations (France, San Antonio, New York City) were evocative and beautiful. The sex scenes were passionate and the ending was heartbreaking. This is a good book to recommend to readers who enjoyed The Paris Wife and like literary historical fiction set in the 1920s ...more
The story of a German bourgeois family and its decline over a period of 40 years. The novel opens in 1835 when the prosperous Buddenbrook family movesThe story of a German bourgeois family and its decline over a period of 40 years. The novel opens in 1835 when the prosperous Buddenbrook family moves into a large stately home in town of Lubeck (which is unnamed in the novel). Over the next 700 pages, Mann traces the fortunes of the family and how the grain merchant fortune is slowly dissipated. The characters of the family also change; from upstanding pious pillars of the community interested in commerce to sickly artistes.
This is a naturalistic novel in the 19th century realistic mode. Mann is not concerned with the political events of the time (most of which happen in the background) but rather with ironic, incisive portraits of human foibles and egoism. None of the characters is likeable but they are all realistic.
There are a lot of themes to chew on in this book - the role of art vs. commerce, family responsibility, philosophy and it is easy to see why it is considered a classic. I could appreciate it but didn't exactly enjoy the experience of reading it. I would be interested in how the book is appreciated/judged in modern Germany. This would be a good book to recommend to readers who enjoy European literature of the 19th Century/early 20th century, especially family sagas....more
Biography about author Judy Blume for grades 2 - 4. There is a lot of focus on Blume's feminism which would probably best be understood by readers onBiography about author Judy Blume for grades 2 - 4. There is a lot of focus on Blume's feminism which would probably best be understood by readers on the older end of the intended age range. The book covers Blume's childhood and career in short chapters with appealing illustrations. There was a quote about the importance of Blume's work which is only attributed to "one prominent writer," which is vague and sets a bad example for kids about attributing sources. The book includes an index, list of Blume's books for children, and a list of sources/further reading....more
Biography of Dolley Madison for grades 2 - 4. Written in a conversational style with short chapters and appealing illustrations this will appeal to chBiography of Dolley Madison for grades 2 - 4. Written in a conversational style with short chapters and appealing illustrations this will appeal to children interested in history or needing to write a report on someone famous. At times, I thought it was trying too hard to "kid friendly" such as describing Thomas Jefferson as James Madison's cool best friend. Includes an index and list of sources....more