Amaryllis in Blueberry is a book about a family that tries to escape its skeletons by becoming missionaries in West Africa. The Slepy family has issue...moreAmaryllis in Blueberry is a book about a family that tries to escape its skeletons by becoming missionaries in West Africa. The Slepy family has issues. Mother Seena has long since withdrawn from her role in the family, practically ignoring her children in favor of reading Greek mythology. Her husband Dick isn't sure where things have gone wrong. The four Slepy daughters each have problems of their own.
If I wasn't the type of person who always finishes a book, I wouldn't have finished this one. I found the story path to be very confusing. It starts close to the end chronologically, which just made things difficult for me to follow. With so much drama, I'm not sure I ever really knew what was happening to who. This book just isn't my style. Nothing against the writing, it's just the plot that made my head spin.(less)
This is Where We Live is the story of Claudia and Jeremy, a young married couple who, like a lot of people in the last few years, got in over their he...moreThis is Where We Live is the story of Claudia and Jeremy, a young married couple who, like a lot of people in the last few years, got in over their heads with their mortgage. Between trying to make careers in the entertainment industry and having a fancy variable-rate mortgage, the couple finds themselves suddenly on the verge of foreclosure.
In order to make ends meet, Claudia gets a real job and rents out the couples' bedroom. Jeremy tries to get his band motivated, but when that backfires, he rebels. This book is really about their struggles and how they deal with this difficult situation.
I didn't expect this book to be so relationship-y. I guess I should of, but what intrigued me was the "ripped from the headlines" aspect. It's only a matter of time before the financial troubles of the country become the backdrop of our fiction novels. It was interesting to see the different ways that each person dealt with the idea of losing their house. Claudia got desperate while Jeremy started blaming everyone else (ironic since he pays the bills). This story ends to abruptly for me. I would have liked a more tidy ending (as always) but I did enjoy reading the book. The descriptions were a little mundane (Claudia is described as soft about 1700 times throughout the book) and I can't say I agreed with most of the decisions that either Claudia or Jeremy made. I did like the perspective that the author provided. I'm looking forward to other interpretations of the recession.(less)
I really enjoyed this book. Nicole, Melissa and Seema have been friends forever. At Nicole's bridal shower, she arranges a cake pull, where guests pul...moreI really enjoyed this book. Nicole, Melissa and Seema have been friends forever. At Nicole's bridal shower, she arranges a cake pull, where guests pull charms out of their slice of cake and the charm is meant to tell their fortune. Nicole tries to rig the cake so that her friends get the charms they want, but something goes wrong and every pulls a different fortune. When the fortunes start coming true, Nic, Mel and Seema get worried that now their unwanted fortunes will come true!
I think my favorite thing about this book is that it doesn't drag. The cake pull happens in the first 30 pages or so and then it's all movement from there. I never found myself wishing that we could pick up the pace. Maybe a little bit with Seema, but I think that was the author's intent (without giving too much away). The characters are generally likable and their struggles seem completely realistic. The message that you can't always plan your future and not all unexpected events are bad is definitely one that I can take to heart.(less)
I'll admit, I picked this book up based on the reviews. I didn't know much about it, but I had been seeing it in the bestseller list. We all know that...moreI'll admit, I picked this book up based on the reviews. I didn't know much about it, but I had been seeing it in the bestseller list. We all know that's a terrible reason to pick up a book.
This story is supposed to change your life. It chronicles Little Bee's escape from Nigeria, starting with her release from the English detention center. She looks up a British couple, Sarah and Andrew, who she encountered during a terrifying run-in with the Nigerian army. This encounter, told through flashback, inevitably resulted in the death of Little Bee's sister and loss of Sarah's middle finger, which she cuts off as ransom for Little Bee's life. When Little Bee comes to see Sarah and Andrew, Andrew, who never quite got over that fateful day, kills himself. Little Bee stays with Sarah and her son Charlie/Batman.
So that's about it. I like the concept. I just don't get its execution. This is another novel where there are two speakers. Only it feels like kind of a waste because their stories are either happening together in the present day or intertwined in the flashbacks. This worked better before Sarah and Little Bee hooked up, but once they were together all the time, the author should have switched to one voice, probably Little Bee's. Also, it might have been nice if the author actually ended the story, rather than just stopped writing. If you like your stories with resolution (and believe me I do), this story is a disappointment. This story was just bland and easily forgettable. It's not worth the effort. (less)
This is a really great book. It's so different from the types of books I've been reading. I found the writing style to be inventive and refreshing. Th...moreThis is a really great book. It's so different from the types of books I've been reading. I found the writing style to be inventive and refreshing. The subject matter is hard and deep, but presented in a respectful and thoughtful way.
The story centers on the rounding up, imprisonment and execution of French Jews in 1942. If you're thinking, "What imprisonment of French Jews?" you're not alone. It seems that this "incident" was swept under the rug until President Jacques Chirac apologized for it in 1995. Apparently of the 42,000 French Jews sent to Auschwitz in 1942, only 811 survived.
The story centers around Julia, an American journalist living in Paris, who is assigned an article on the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv, named for the arena that the French Jews were brought to when they were arrested by French police in the middle of the night. It was from there that they were brought to internment camps and then, eventually, Auschwitz. Julia becomes enthralled by the story and by its coverup in the aftermath. Upon further digging, she realizes that her family's apartment was only available after a Jewish family was taken from it that night. She becomes obsessed with that family and their tragic story.
Tangled in Julia's story is the story of the little girl who lived in the apartment. This book is a 2-for-1. You get the first hand narative of being woken by the police, crammed in the Vel d'Hiv for 6 days and the internment. Tragic is the only word I can think of to describe what happened to this poor family. You also get the horror of a person discovering this event for the first time, 60 years later, and the havoc it wreaks on her life. She learns things about her in-laws and herself that draw her closer to some and apart from others.
This story is well-written. It's one of those books where you know the author worked really hard to make it come out just right. I don't want to spoil it. Just read it and find out!(less)
Room is the story of Jack, a 5 year old boy born to a woman who was kidnapped and raped by her captor of seven years. The story is told through Jack's...moreRoom is the story of Jack, a 5 year old boy born to a woman who was kidnapped and raped by her captor of seven years. The story is told through Jack's point of view. He has never been out of the 11x11 foot shed and knows nothing about the world outside. When his mother plans an elaborate escape plan, Jack is introduced to Outside.
I wanted to love this book immediately and I didn't. I found it hard to get into. I knew it was going to be amazing once I got into it, I just had a hard time getting there. I don't know if it doesn't read well because of the 5 year old voice it is told through or if the set up drags a little too long. As far as readability goes, it's not the easiest. (This actually kept me from giving it 5 stars.)
I like this book because it made me think about things I normally wouldn't. It's kind of a "ripped from the headlines" type of story. Even though this one is fiction, I couldn't help thinking that this happens. It's horrifying and you have to admire "Ma's" strength through this ordeal.
The other aspect I thought about is that Jack is like a visitor from another planet. His confusion in today's culture was kind of surprising because every single thing that was new to him is something I take for granted (shoes, skin pigment, the ability to see distance).
The bottom line is that you have to admire the author for her fearlessness with this subject, her creativity with character development and her attention to detail. I would definitely recommend this book if you're in the mood for a heavier read.(less)
I can tell a book is good if it makes me worried that I'm going to miss my subway stop. This book had me doing just that. I was a little put off where...moreI can tell a book is good if it makes me worried that I'm going to miss my subway stop. This book had me doing just that. I was a little put off where the story is told in multiple voices and written in dialect. That's something I got used to though and it ended up being fine. It added to the authenticity.
This book takes place in Mississippi in the mid-1960s. Skeeter, who I guess is the main character, moves back home from college, unmarried with dreams of becoming a writer. She finds that she doesn't quite fit in with her socialite friends and her mother is horrified that she didn't find her husband at school. She is mentored by book editor in New York and begins the mission to tell the story of the colored maids working for white families. She targets Aibileen and Minny, who serve her friends' families. She is inspired by her own family's maid, who disappeared from Skeeter's life while she was in school.
There are a lot of really good dramatic episodes in this story that make the 400+ pages worth it. The character development is superb. All the characters have something about them that you can relate to, except for maybe the book's villain, Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is the kind of person everyone knows and no one likes, except that she holds all the power. Even though I don't have the experience with the location, the time frame or the circumstances, it was easy to imagine what that world would be like.
I'm excited to see what else Kathryn Stockett can come up with. I just saw that they're turning this book into a film, which is kind of unfortunate. I think this book is too deep for the silver screen.(less)
I read Barefoot because it was on everyone's summer reading list. I love stories where people with little in common get woven together. In this book,...moreI read Barefoot because it was on everyone's summer reading list. I love stories where people with little in common get woven together. In this book, you meet three sisters: Vicki, a mother of two battling lung cancer, Brenda, her sister who had the academic world on a string before throwing it all away on an affair with a student, and Melanie, Vicki's friend from Suburbia, finally pregnant after too many tries but with a husband who is having an affair with a coworker. They hole up in a family cottage in Nantucket. Toss in the local college boy acting as nanny for the summer and watch the drama unfold.
There's nothing about this story that is light. Everyone in this book is at a crossroads and no one's choices are easy. Even things that are supposed to be fun, cookouts, beach days, shopping trips, have ann air of depression. While Barefoot is well-written, it moves slowly through a murky plot. There are certain episodes that kept my interest, but the majority of the book was mundane. Despite the length, the story ends kind of abruptly. The loose ends tie together nicely, ironic given the 480 pages of turmoil before that.
I guess I wanted something deeper from a book that promised to be like Beaches. Better luck next time, I guess. (less)
I feel lukewarm about this book. I didn't have any expectations going in as my mother-in-law let me borrow it. I didn't seek it out. For a short book,...moreI feel lukewarm about this book. I didn't have any expectations going in as my mother-in-law let me borrow it. I didn't seek it out. For a short book, it took me forever to get through! I found myself rereading sections because it couldn't keep my attention.
I can't tell what's wrong with this book. The plot has a lot of intricacies: the war and being an outsider in enemy territory, tuberculosis, leprosy, Stephan's parents' strained relationship, unrequited love, and cracking the shell of his companion. There's enough going on that the story should have held my attention. I think it was the journalistic style that sucked the life out of this story. The writing was bland and unimaginative. The fact-checking was lacking as well. Can you swim when you're recuperating from TB? Should you be kissing girls and befriending lepers?
I thought this would be a peaceful and enlightening story. It wasn't. I'm disappointed at how weak this novel was.(less)