Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book is a hard one to review because there are so many depths of dimension for this book.

The good: It started off really intriguing, I was hooked by the exile of Catherine Goggin to Dublin and the very specific types of persecution that was going on in Ireland at the time. The first section was a "stay up in bed under the covers read"  I want to be Catherine Goggin when I grow up!
 I found Cyril Avery's unique relationship with his adoptive parents hilarious and heartbreaking especially since I was raised by adoptive parents as well.  His obvious adoration for his best friend Julian and the eventual realizations that he has about them throughout his formative years was very deep and realistic. Then we get to the last section where he has his footing under him, and has grown into himself, both of which were beautiful and mature and lovely.

The not so good: The whole thing went off the rails for just a a little bit in the middle when describing all of the different sexual encounters that Cyril explored throughout his adolescence and early adulthood as he came to terms with his homosexuality.  I understood what the author was trying to do by telling the stories, but there were a few times that I found myself drifting off course because of the sometimes graphic scenes.

Also there is a little red bow tied to the end of the book.  It was a little too neat for my tastes especially with as messy as the plots and interactions.
Overall, this book was lovely and complicated and I highly recommend it, especially to my friends with a love of historical fiction.

Thank you to John Boyne, Hogarth Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Where to even start with this book.  It made me cry, happy tears and sad tears all in one book.

It broke my heart to watch two people with the best of intentions suffer so much, as someone with children myself as well as depression, I found myself hugging my boys a little tighter after thinking about what Yejide went through over and over again.

The love that Akin had for her was so pure even though his intentions and execution were so terrible.  Even through everything that they went through, you could still see his love.  I was so pleased with the ending.

I need all of my friends to read this novel so we can talk about its nuances.

Thank you to Doubleday Publishing for providing me a copy of this book for review and Ayobami Adebayo for writing such a lovely book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

May I begin by saying how much I love Rachel Joyce?  From the moment I read "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" and "Perfect" I have been in love with her writing style and her ability to turn a narrative of a very simple story into something lovely.

So when I got the opportunity to read "The Music Shop" thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing, I jumped at the opportunity.  The writing did not disappoint.  The characters on the dying street in small town England were vivid and well developed.  I felt like I had driven down the street, like I had wandered around the square and past the cathedral and the chain-linked bomb site.

At its heart, this book is a love story. Not just between the two main characters, but with music.  I even created a playlist with all of the musical references that were in the book and closed my eyes to listen to it with the intensity that was suggested by the descriptions in the novel.  As a former choir/band nerd, I instantly connected with the thread that music plays throughout a person's life.

The only thing that kept this from being a true five star read although it is a solid 4.5, was the ending.  Although I can appreciate the simplicity of what Joyce was trying to accomplish, it seemed a bit abrupt after the 20 year wingspan of the book.

I highly recommend this novel - read all that you can of Rachel Joyce's beautiful literature.

Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars

Monday, September 25, 2017

  I was so excited about receiving this ARC from Netgalley after reading (and loving) The Martian.  Andy Weir has a very unique voice and that was evident all the way through this novel as well.  There are obvious comparisons to The Martian to be made.  The language of Jazz (the protaganist) and the flippant remarks and sarcasm is very reminiscent of the comments of Mark Watney in The Martian.  In the case of this book, however, the attitude grew tiresome and seemed forced perhaps because there was nothing to break up Jazz's dialogue with a different perspective.  Everything is from her POV rather than having interludes of another voice.

  Although the action felt a little contrived in this book, I still got caught up in the moon-walking, sabotage and entrigue of the city on the moon concept.  It was refreshing after a series of "just OK" reads lately to get one that I couldn't put down.  It's a solid 3.5 star read rounded up to four for enjoyability.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsWhen you think of South Africa, how many of you think of a land where black people are repressed by whites and subject to slave-like conditions?

Set in Apartheid South Africa, this book does a beautiful job reminding the reader that these atrocities happened in the near past as it follows two main characters Beauty, a black woman searching for her daughter and Robin, a privileged white girl of 11.  The stark contrast between their experiences sheds an amazing light on the racial divide in a land where most people think is simply inhabited by blacks.

Bianca does a wonderful job weaving the stories together and sprinkling in other social issues on her way.  I highly recommend this book, it stole my sleep on so many levels.

I am grateful to the author, publisher and for the chance to preview this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Thank you to Sara Gruen and Spiegel and Grau Publishing and Netgalley for the Advanced copy of this novel.

In the tradition of "Water for Elephants", Gruen spins a wonderful period tale of wealthy Americans during the war chasing their fortunes in Scotland.  Yes, they are looking for the Loch Ness Monster but don't let that premise detract you from picking up this novel.  There is quite a bit of whimsy threaded through the book but none of it is overbearing or distracting from the underlying story.

The characters are drawn beautifully and remind me vividly of F Scott Fitzgerald in the attitudes and story structure.  Maddie's revelations about her life unfold very realistically and the subplot of romance does not feel forced.  I especially enjoyed the interaction between Maddie and the innkeepers.  It is so lovely to watch women become friends and reminds me of how lucky I am to have the ladies in my life.

This was definitely a "stay up until the last page is turned" kind of novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

A big thanks to my book club for picking The Girl on the Train.  Fair warning dear readers, you are either going to really like this book or you are really not going to like this book, in scrolling through the other goodreads reviews, there is not a whole lot of in between on that one.  While I understand the comparisons to "Gone Girl" Paula Hawkins definitely occupies a different space in the dark and twisty genre than does Gillian Flynn.

I kind of hated how much I identified with the different characters in different ways.  I feel like I have spent time in each of their shoes at some point (feeling stuck, getting dumped, being envious, being controlled) and it makes me grateful for the ending that my life is writing for itself.  This is one of those books that I finished at 1AM and didn't feel bad about it in the morning.

I can't wait for our book club discussion next week.  It should be interesting to see how my fellow bookies felt about this novel.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars