Don't shy away from this novel just because the topic of sex can be taboo. Or because the main character is a prostitute. It is not an overtly graphicDon't shy away from this novel just because the topic of sex can be taboo. Or because the main character is a prostitute. It is not an overtly graphic depiction of Maria's sexual encounters. Coelho deftly turns Maria's experience into a reflection on what it is to love and how coupling is a manifestation of joining souls.
Convinced she will never find true love, Maria leaves her homeland of Brazil for Geneva, Switzerland to seek opportunity. When her quest for fame and fortune ends, she determines that the best way to make money is to sell her body. She justifies her choices in a philosophic way. She doesn't even enjoy sex! But when she meets a painter who intrigues her, she is forced to reconsider the ideas of love and loss, pain and pleasure. Sure, there are some erotic scenes, but nothing too scandalous. It is Coelho's skill at exploring something so fundamental that makes this novel approachable. ...more
The Kitchen Boy is an alternate history that explores the final days and the deaths of the Romanovs. Alexander’s use of historical material in the forThe Kitchen Boy is an alternate history that explores the final days and the deaths of the Romanovs. Alexander’s use of historical material in the form of letters gives it authenticity despite its fictionalization and speculative conclusion. I have read plenty about the Romanovs to consider myself an aficionado, but it was the perspective of the kitchen boy, Leonka that made this so engaging. It gave an insider point of view that was refreshing after reading so much non-fiction on the subject and I felt as if I was witnessing firsthand the trials of the Romanov family. Obviously, Alexander took several liberties with the outcome of that fateful night in 1918 and the epilogue was filled with dizzying revelations, but the novel worked as a whole. It could easily be read and enjoyed by a Romanov enthusiast like me or someone who has no background on the subject. The abundant inclusion of Russian phrases was a bit overdone and it could have been slightly more accessible if it hadn’t addressed every character by their formal names. Overall, though, it was a great novel that explored the humanity and devotion of this extraordinary and tragic family....more
I had high hopes that this would be a great Halloween book, but I was a little disappointed. Hell House didn’t have the creepiness factor of other horI had high hopes that this would be a great Halloween book, but I was a little disappointed. Hell House didn’t have the creepiness factor of other horror books of the era like Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist. The premise was good: big sinister house previously owned by a sadistic and depraved guy who corrupted a number of other individuals and therefore their souls. A team is sent in by an eccentric millionaire to either debunk or prove the haunting and therefore determine whether there is life after death. There is constant conflict between spiritualism and science, but each theory has its weaknesses and neither one comes close to exposing the truth. I was disappointed with the notion of the haunting being nothing but an insecure spirit hung up on his own physical inadequacies. Sure the characters got thoroughly beaten and terrorized by the malevolent force that controls the house, but I was never truly frightened for them. There were some good aspects, but the scare factor fell flat....more