Showing posts from April, 2017

The Idiot by Elif Batuman: A Review

When I put The Idiot on my to be read list, I believed that it was going to be a quirky novel with cultural interests.  It is somewhat quirky but Selin's Turkish heritage plays little part in the story and the only references to Turkish culture are about the language.  Selin has just started her freshman year at Harvard and tries to make friends while navigating the strange academic environment.  In a Russian class, she meets Svetlana and the pair become friends while she begins a friendship with Ivan through an email exchange.  Even though the emails coming from Ivan are strange, Selin begins to fall in love with Ivan, even though he already has a girlfriend and is planning on attending graduate school in California a year later. 

I couldn't wrap my head around this book.  There were some funny parts in it and I would say that Batuman has a gift for satire.  Where I fault the book is that it moves so slowly, one can't enjoy the satire.  This reads like a college student&…

The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart: A Review

Young Dixie Dupree and her brother AJ, mother, and father live in rural Alabama.  Dixie's relationship with her mother is strained and always has been and Dixie doesn't really know why.  Dixie always seems to drive her mother into a rage and, sometimes, her mother reacts with violence that Dixie is then asked to keep secret to protect the family.  Dixie's mother is originally from New Hampshire and misses home which causes a rift between her and her husband.  When Dixie's father breaks down and winds up severely hurt, Dixie's Uncle Ray pays the family a visit in order to help the family through their troubled times.  Soon, Dixie realizes that Uncle Ray may be in Alabama for his own reasons.      

One of my reading goals for this year was to read more books by local authors.  Considering Everhart was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is about fifteen minutes from where I currently live, I was enticed to read what the book was about.  The synopsis is what hook…

What's Become of Her by Deb Caletti: A Review

Former editor at a publishing company, Isabelle, has returned to her home and the family airport on a small, tight-knit island after her divorce and mother's death.  While welcoming a client, she meets Henry North, a charismatic professor on sabbatical who is making a go at writing a poetry anthology.  The couple quickly become inseparable even though memories of her ex-husband's infidelity and abusive childhood leave her wounded and slow to warm up.  Professor Weary, an ornithologist, covertly alerts Isabelle through a series of anonymous tips to local police and strange trinkets in the mail that Henry was investigated in relation to, not one, but two deaths of a fiance or spouse.  Unfortunately, Isabelle has already moved in with Henry and Henry has asked Isabelle to marry him.  Will Isabelle be savvy enough, despite Henry's controlling nature and put-downs, to find out what happened to Henry's former wife and fiance before she becomes his third victim?

This story m…

Marlena by Julie Buntin: A Review

Buntin's Marlena is how a coming of age story is supposed to be told!  Fifteen-year-old Cat has moved to an economically depressed area with her mother and brother after her father leaves for a younger woman.  Her new next door neighbor is Marlena, a seventeen-year-old who lives in a barn with her younger brother and meth-cooking father.  Cat idolizes Marlena and aims to become friends with her, despite Marlena's drug abuse.  When everything spirals out of control for Marlena and she ends up drowned in one of the local bodies of water, Cat is left with problems of her own and a will to make things better for herself.

I decided to read Marlena after seeing that it was one of Book of the Month Club's March selections and I am so glad that I did.  I have been disappointed by coming of age stories before but I really enjoyed this one.  Some of the newer coming of age stories or New Adult fiction books out seem to glorify the drugs, alcohol and mental illness but Buntin did no…

The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur: A Review

Linnet and Myna have drifted apart due to their mutual involvement in a traumatic event and the untimely death of their mother.  Myna teaches at a community college in Florida while Linnet runs the family bed and breakfast and looks after her retired ornithologist father who is suffering from dementia.  When the geese that draw in tourists start to drop from the sky, Linnet's father has a theory but the local university feels that they can better handle the testing.  The ornithologist that the university sent over to the bed and breakfast works with Dr. Jenkins but is found dead on the property the next day.  What was the secret that the sisters have kept all these years?  Who killed the young ornithologist?  What is killing all the geese and are all of these tragedies somehow tied together?

This really didn't read like a mystery for me.  I would categorize it more as women's fiction than a true mystery.  There are some questions that are raised in the book but it moved s…

Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins: A Review

I am normally a sucker for a good memoir but Brookins' account of building a house after suffering from domestic violence didn't do it for me.  Cara Brookins is a mother of four who has suffered immensely in her life.  Her disabled brother was an easy target for bullies and she keeps finding herself in relationships with the wrong men.  Adam is incredibly smart and talented but he also suffers with schizoaffective disorder, an extremely difficult to treat mental illness.  Matt is physically and verbally abusive.  Cara decides that she must protect herself and her children by moving away from the men and finding a new place to live.  Short on money, Cara decides that she will build her own home using advice gleaned from YouTube videos and people she meets at the hardware store.

Brookins claims many times to be an optimist in her book and she must be in order to build her own home with four children in tow, one a toddler.  The story is very depressing, though.  I have read a lo…

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge: A Review

Barry Bleecker is a New Yorker who works in finance but he longs to be an artist.  He wants to follow in the footsteps of Gauguin who escaped to Tahiti in order to paint.  Sophie Ducel and her husband, Etienne, have been holding off on a honeymoon until they can get their architectural firm off the ground but Sophie wants to visit the home of a singer, Jacques Brel.  There separate desires lead to the trio allowing a twice terminated pilot nicknamed "Ding Dong" to fly them to the Marquesas.  When the inebriated pilot is unable to avoid a lightening storm, the plane goes down, Etienne passes, and Sophie and Barry wash up onto a deserted island.  In order to survive, the two must learn how to get along and work together.

Castle of Water was such a sweet little book.  I am not usually a fan of romance novels but this book was recommended to me and I thought that I should give it a chance.  Fortunately for me, this book had more to love than just romance.  I loved reading about …

The Child by Fiona Barton: A Review

Angela and Nick's daughter Alice disappeared years ago but Angela still hasn't allowed herself to forget the day that the child went missing while she took time for herself for a shower in the hospital after giving birth.  When the bones of a baby are unearthed during a construction project, Angela can't help but think that it might be Alice.  Kate is looking for a way to assure that she avoids the layoffs that seem to have become routine in her newsroom and is looking for a story that will put her back on the front page when she decides to investigate the story of the remains of the baby.  Who is the baby and why was it buried there are just the first of the questions the discovery leads to.

I was not a huge fan of the character Kate.  She seemed to be a bit of a cliche of a reporter; the ambulance chaser that tries to get the picture of the mother who falls apart after hearing about the death of her child.  At one point, Kate ponders, "It seemed everyone was jumpin…

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline: A Review