Category: books

I read, and if you read, then you’ll understand why I like to talk about what I read.

Book review: The Winter People

This book was so good I read it in two days. Then I found a second book by Jennifer McMahon (The Night Sister) at a used book shop and read that one in one day. She is a phenomenal storyteller. The Winter People takes place in the fictional West Hall, Vermont, over two time frames – 1908 and Present Day. In… Read more →

Book Review: The Forgotten Girls

I’ve been on a kick of needing complete escapism, and for me, that means mystery, thriller, murder, scary, and what the hell am I reading. To quench my thirst for murder mysteries, I borrowed a stack of books from Karin, and among them was The Forgotten Girls. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the language barrier.… Read more →

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I assigned this book for my literature and creative writing class at the co-op, and I’m so glad I did because it provided a space for wonderful, in-depth conversation about history and human nature. Though many of my students had heard the word “Holocaust,” they had neither the insight nor application to wrap their brains about what really happened. First, The… Read more →

Book Review: The Drop

Dennis Lehane might not be an author whose name you recognize, but you know his work. Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island… These are movies, but they were books first. His books. I read Gone Baby Gone in graduate school as it fits the police procedural/mystery/detective genre perfectly. Lehane writes as if the book is also a screenplay. The… Read more →

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood

For Leonora, going to a hen party isn’t her cup of tea, but when an old friend from a decade prior is getting married, she’s on the receiving end of an invite to a cabin in the woods to celebrate Clare’s last days as a single girl. If “cabin in the woods” isn’t an indicator that something will go wrong,… Read more →

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

To officially welcome my favorite month, I started October with a ghost story written by Audrey Niffenegger (author of Time Traveler’s Wife). Double points for being set in London. The story jumps between a collection of characters. First is Londoner Elspeth Noblin, who is dying. Her twin, Edie, lives in New York with her husband, Jack, and their 20-year-old college-dropout… Read more →

Book Review: This is where I leave you

In the span of a short time, Judd Foxman’s marriage falls apart and his father dies. He’s living in a basement apartment while his wife’s boyfriend (Judd’s former boss, no less) takes his place. Upon the death of Judd’s father, he learns one more bit of undesirable information: his father’s dying request was for his wife and four adult children… Read more →

Book Review: Everything She Forgot

Margaret Holloway is involved in the worst pileup in London’s history. Crammed into her crunched vehicle, which is on fire, she fears she will die when the gas tank explodes. There are only minutes to spare and she cannot escape. Just as she starts to accept her fate, a man appears. He shatters the car’s glass and pulls her from the wreckage. Margaret catches… Read more →

Book Review: Dietland

I thought I was picking up a little light reading, but no. Dietland is social commentary, and I can’t make up my mind about it. Plum Kettle is fat. (It’s okay. I’m allowed to use the f-word.) At 300-something pounds, she lives a quiet, private life in Brooklyn answering fan mail for a teen magazine. Girls write to Kitty with all… Read more →

Book Review: The Devil of Nanking

I get book recommendations from myriad places – friends, acquaintances, online reviews, etc. It was from BookTube (the small literary corner of YouTube) that I heard about The Devil of Nanking, and on a whim I decided to try this thriller/horror/disturbing story. Grey is a 23-year-old British woman who is convinced she’s not crazy. Once, when she was 13, she… Read more →

Book Review: Cage of Stars

After finishing Cage of Stars, I sat still for a few minutes and wondered if I’d read the same book as those who gave it a stellar review. The story follows Veronica (Ronnie) Swan and her lengthy dip in the pool of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the brutal murder of her two sisters, which happened essentially in front of her.… Read more →

Book Review: The Little Friend

This is the third book I’ve read by Donna Tartt. Compared to The Goldfinch and The Secret History, it fell a bit short. While I wasn’t nearly as captivated by the characters or setting or plot, Tartt is still a masterful storyteller. She has a unique way of placing readers inside the scene instead of keeping them on the periphery.… Read more →

Book Review: Wonder

If you recall, I’m teaching a middle school literature and creative writing class at our co-op this year. Wonder is the first book students will read, and I thought I’d share a review here for other parents. Wonder follows the story of August Pullman as he transitions from being a homeschooled fourth grader to a fifth grader at Beecher Prep School. It’s a… Read more →

Book Review: Bel Canto

Pulling from a real event (the hijacking of a Japanese embassy in Peru in 1996), Ann Patchett creates a similar hostage situation in an unnamed South American city where 200+ foreign diplomats and government officials are held captive. However, unlike the real story, Patchett includes an opera singer, a beautiful soprano with a magic voice who was brought to the house of… Read more →

Book review: The Submission

The irony of reading this book in the midst of the Orlando attack is not lost on me. The timing couldn’t have been better. The Submission is set two years after 9/11 and a jury has been gathered to select the perfect memorial structure for the hallowed ground. Artists and architects are invited to submit their designs anonymously so the… Read more →

Book Review: The Secret Place

Well, the streak was bound to end. They can’t all be great. Unlike Into the Woods, Faithful Place, The Likeness, and Broken Harbor, I did not enjoy The Secret Place. In fact, I struggled to finish it. In keeping with the Dublin Murder Squad standard plot equation, there’s been a murder and you, as the reader, have a couple of… Read more →

Book Review: Broken Harbor

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Tana French writes the traditional “Whodunit?” crime thriller because it’s almost always clear which character committed the murder. The mystery is more about how the Dublin Murder Squad puts the pieces together and closes out the case. Readers are alongside the detectives at every step. Broken Harbor begins with the murder of a… Read more →

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