Posts Tagged With: reviews

Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible – 4/5

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I resisted picking up because I didn’t know what to expect. Books that talk about religion – good or bad – tend to make me antsy. I know next to nothing about any religion so I wasn’t sure how this would sit. Obviously, it sat well.

Kingsolver is such a fantastic writer. Politics and opinions in the book aside, she did an incredible job of making this story come alive. The Poisonwood Bible is told from the perspective of five different females whose lives are wholly changed by, truthfully, one man – the father of the family. I love how differently Africa changed each of them – turning inward, turning out, growth, death, and even stasis. I think we all have (or will have) an experience in our lives that change us forever. It was fascinating to see one event change so many characters.

Kingsolver’s writing is poetry. The way she describes not only the atmosphere and setting but also the thoughts are incredible. Each female voice is incredibly distinctive. Adah and Ruth May are particularly wonderful to read. I was able to enjoy this book on audio and the narrator is phenomenal. The way she does Rachel – it’s perfection.

For me, I think the book should have ended prior to the girls growing up. This is the distinction for me between five and four stars. The end of the book, while still enjoyable, gets political. Whether I think one way or another about it, when it’s a historical fiction novel, it’s hard to know what is fact and what is opinion. I liked seeing how the women turned out, but part of me wanted to stay back in the Congo, too.

This book is art, and I loved listening to the words wash over me. There’s a reason its well known and it’s worth your time and effort to experience Kingsolver’s style.

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Book Review: The Rosie Project – 5/5

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

rosie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book just makes you want to go “aww.”

The buzz about this story is totally justified. So much about this book is downright adorable. I am such a sucker for the boy-meets-girl scenario all tied up in a new package. For that reason there’s not much that I think needs to be said about it on the whole. The cover will “spoil” the majority of the book already. It’s not so much a book about “what’s going to happen” as it is “how are they going to get there.”

As light as this novel is, I really enjoy the new flavor of the main character. He’s not your standard knight in shining armor – it’s endearing and energizing to see a new kind of protagonist, one with a “social handicap” so-to-speak. In that respect this story has some truly deeper ideas about love, how it manifests, as our expectations of ourselves AND others.

The moral of the story is not about being perfect individually, but perfect together, and it’s a lot of fun to read a book that reminds us of that.

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Series Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – 4/5

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

smoke daughter2daughter3

It may be possible that these are the prettiest YA series covers ever. Srsly.

To those of you who pick up this book – I recommend you buy/borrow the other two from the trilogy at the same time. You’re going to want to read them all in quick succession.

I love this series’s imagination, the colors, the scenes. It’s all so beautiful. The setting is incredible – Prague, the art studio, Poison. Even better are the people! Humans, angels, and creatures – they are all fascinating. Taylor does such a great job of showing me everything without overloading me with exposition. I can see so much, and I don’t even think that’s because I’ve traveled to many of the places (Prague and Marrakesh being two main settings – gorgeous on paper and in real life!).

Then there’s a plot. It has the scary angels which fascinate me (quick plug for how awesome Angelfall is) along with just as fascinating underworld beings. I love the way you’re not sure who is good and who is bad. The action is intense on both a large and a small scale.

Book one, for me, was an obvious 5 out of 5 – hit it out of the park kind of style.  But, with the curse of most trilogies (in my opinion), the second and third books get too weighty.  The second book doesn’t move nearly quick enough and the super bad-a** main character (necessarily) stumbles and whines and moans a bit. I get that Karou was going through hardship, but it’s just not fun as a reader to see how long it takes her to see what is right in front of her face.

Book two ramps up at the end and by the time you make it through book three, you’ll feel all weepy for not seeing more of the characters (at least I did) – Zuzana, Mik, Liraz, Hazael, Issa, Ziri, and, of course, Karou and Akiva. I loved them all, particularly the humans, throughout the whole process. The fighting, the plotting, it was all so beautifully done. I love how little right and wrong there is (did I say that already?  Well, it’s true). Every once in a while you get your certainty for who is inherent good or evil, but I love how the idea of angels and demons just doesn’t hold up. It’s a beautiful message, all and all.

The book should have ended at the end of the battle, when we know who won. Truly. It did not need to go on into this whole other plot. I’m not sure where Taylor was taking all of that – there were too many new ideas (and characters, for that matter) introduced in the final book. I think it was all one giant plot line that wasn’t needed. I think the core plot was perfect on its own.

Even though I have a few qualms, I loved the trilogy. Per usual, book one was the best and one I ate up quickly, but the other two well supported it all. Definitely a great YA series to pick up!

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Book Review: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) – 5/5

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

MOBY

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This!

Love! Love love love love love!

Book > Expectations

Diana Gabaldon is is genius, Davina Porter has the voice of an angel, it all culminates into a beautiful mixture of bliss.

When the last line of the book came, I gasped – aloud, on the street. I kid you not. With audiobooks it’s hard to know when the end is near and I was blindsided. I so, so, so want more! It was perfect and horrible all at one time; mostly because I can’t stand the thought of not having any new Outlander to read. I had only just finished book 7 a few months before this one came out.

I don’t know what it means to not have more at my fingertips.

I cannot handle this.

Did I mention that I love this? If you’ve made it this far to the series, you’re not going to need to read the reviews. Just know that Gabaldon is a wizard. Or mayhaps a witch.

Don’t care, just love.

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YA Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone – 5 of 5!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

smoke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To those of you who pick up this book – I recommend you buy/borrow the other two from the trilogy at the same time. You’re going to want to read them all in quick succession.

I borrowed this book from the library and read it in a day. Within about three minutes of closing the book I was online, confirming the others were on the shelf, and walking back to the library to borrow the other two. It’s that good, folks!

I love this book’s imagination, the colors, the scenes. It’s all so beautiful. The setting is incredible – Prague, the art studio, Poison. Even better are the people! Humans, angels, and creatures – they are all fascinating. Taylor does such a great job of showing me everything without overloading me with exposition. I can see so much, and I don’t even think that’s because I’ve traveled to many of the places (Prague and Marrakesh being two main settings – gorgeous on paper and in real life!).

Then there’s a plot. It has the scary angels which fascinate me (quick plug for how awesome Angelfall is) along with just as fascinating underworld beings. I love the way you’re not sure who is good and who is bad. The action is intense on both a large and a small scale. Both the reader and the main character, Karou, spend the book trying to figure out who she is – and what connection she has to the (potentially) imminent end to the world. That’s a plot hook if I ever heard of one!

Okay, enough of this internet business – I need to crack open book #2!

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YA Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart – 2 of 5

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

instructions

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry, folks, this is not good. I know some of you loved the book, but this was cringe-tastic. It’s like Culbertson took all the bad parts of a YA novel and shoved it all into a beautiful package.

This book has so much potential! A recent break-up, an Italian vacation, twenty dares from a best friend – I love the premise. The execution was total blerg.

Where do I begin? Let’s start with my biggest frustration – the trip. That was the most boring, god-awful travel log I have ever read. Seriously, how do you write a book about a trip to Italy and focus only on the bad parts? I’d done a trip like what Jessa experienced in this book and I know what Culbertson was getting at – school trips abroad are generally terrible ideas. You sit in a boring bus all day, you barely have any time at locations, etc. I don’t want to read about it. I don’t need to see all the nuances of why traveling in a group sucks.

This book, to me, is just littered with Culbertson’s life experiences. It’s so obvious to me that each experience Jessa has Culbertson likely had in life. I’m all for authors drawing on true experiences, but this is just too much. All the referrals to specific musicals and games and whatnot – it was all too exact. Television shows and movies were just too alienating; as a reader I didn’t know a lot of the pop culture that was mentioned. None of it had meaning to me and so I just felt like I was listening in on a young girl’s (boring) life.

And then, of course, my main issue. Every single character needed to just get over him or her self. I know people are self-absorbed at that age but I don’t want to read about it in the extreme. Jessa’s pity party went on for far too long – blah blah you loved him blah. Based on everything we learned from Carissa, he obviously sucked, so you shouldn’t have loved him. And this whole “being too busy” thing was just lame. And can I mention how apparently everyone in their brother was poet or a singer? I know they were drama kids, but still.

I don’t know, it seems like very little in this book rang true (what’s up with Jessa having like six incredibly close guy friends? And everyone on the trip hooking up? What was up with her telling a new story for her scar all the time?) or, when things did ring true, I didn’t want to know (I don’t need to know how bored you are on the bus. I really don’t,)

It’s not my intention to be completely mean.  I did finish it, after all. The writing was decent and there were some really nice lines but I just couldn’t get lost in it. So not worth it.

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Book Review: Outwitting the Gestapo by Lucie Aubrac – 3 of 5

Outwitting the Gestapo by Lucie Aubrac

outwitting

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucie Aubrac was one kick-a, bad-a lady.

Germans on my doorstep? Whatever, I’ll just lie to their face.

Nazis capture my (Jewish) husband? NBD, I’ll just march up to Klaus Barbie and give him a piece of my mind.

Pregnant? Psh, I’ll go on raids and rescue missions until I start having labor pains.

Seriously, there’s a book (and I guess, a movie) about Lucie Aubrac (aka: Catherine, Lucie Bernard, Lucie Samuels, etc) for good reason. She did some incredible things as part of the Resistance in France in WWII. Add on top of it that this diary-style book captures the nine months of her pregnancy – when her husband is captured and she helps mastermind his rescue – and you have one hell of a story.

So why only three stars? Unfortunately, this book is a prime example of how poor writing can turn something as exciting as Lucie Aubrac’s life into a history book. I don’t know if Lucie’s writing style was a bit silted or (what I think is more likely) the translation was poor. Excitement comes across as corny and all of the events are discordant and often confusing. Everything felt like it was in fast forward. Before the emotions of fear or anxiety or hope could squeeze in the action had already changed. I ended up skimmed much of the end of the book.

I’m pretty die-hard when it comes to WWII memoirs – if you’re that way too, you may find this enjoyable. If not, I wouldn’t recommend picking it up. I think ti’s important to know who Lucie Aubrac is – do a little research – but, unfortunately, her memoir falls flat.

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YA Book Review: Impluse – 3.5 of 5

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

impulse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I checked this book out from the library, I didn’t bother to crack the cover. I just went on my merry way. When I finally opened the book I almost snapped it right shut – I had no idea it was written entirely in verse (or close enough). I’ve only read one book in this style before, long ago, and it didn’t sit too well. I decided to keep an open mind, though, and jumped in. Overall, I’m glad I did. This book is a solid 3.5 with enough oomph to round up instead of down.

I could have done without that style of writing and just gone with the prose, but it worked. It focused more on the characters and their thoughts and required less regarding the setting and other goings-on (not that those were absent). I also enjoyed the way the three characters’ pages actually looked different. It was an easy way to tell apart the voices (which was needed, since otherwise everyone was similar in their manner of speaking).

This book is angsty to the extreme. It’s necessary, a book about three characters who failed at suicide is bound to be angsty, but it’s still good to know coming in. Despite all their problems, I found their ability to move through the Levels of their care too easy. This book is pro-medication as a fixer; I know meds help many people, so I’m not knocking it, the book just makes the opinion obvious. The workers at this group are strangely oblivious – maybe that’s another statement being made as well. I think by the end we as readers all knew something was going to happen (this type of book couldn’t be all happy-go-lucky, after all) but that unfortunately made the “happening” dulled.

Despite a few of my misgivings, I think this is a very solid YA book about many difficult subjects. My absolute favorite part of the book is how these three characters see each other. I love, love, love how Hopkins did this characterization. All three people, of course, hate themselves in some way (who doesn’t, especially as an adolescent?) but they all see each other as wonderful. They all see the others as strong and capable and beautiful. It’s a great message and woven in very subtly.

Overall – not bad and it’s worth it to try something new!

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