Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review -- The Husband's Secret

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating:  3
Source:  Library copy
Genre:  General fiction
Objectionable material:  Language; sexual relations

Three ordinary families whose lives are subtly intertwined and the extraordinary secrets that change their lives forever.

I really enjoyed this book and how the author turned run of the mill families into an escalating moral dilemma.

An interesting look at the "butterfly effect" (in which a small change at one place results in large differences later) on a very personal, intimate level.

Reminded me of Jodi Picoult's novels.

Would definitely like to read this author's other novels.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review -- Elizabeth the First Wife

Elizabeth the First Wife
Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars (should have been 4!)
Hangover rating: 1
Source: Public library
Genre: Fiction, "Chick-Lit"
Objectionable material: One sexual reference -- really tame. 

One day Elizabeth Lancaster is teaching her college level Intro to Shakespeare class – the next, she’s off to Ashland Oregon, as a consultant for a newly imagined production of the Bard’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, staring none other than her ex husband, FX Fahey (think Hugh Jackman) and directed by superstar Taz Buchanan (think Baz Luhrmann). Her summer is filled with all things Shakespeare – but the drama is not confined to the stage – the arrival of her family sets in motion a comedy of errors and love interests that the Bard would truly appreciate.

This was SO my book: I loved the theatrical setting; I loved ALL the references to Shakespeare; I loved the comparisons between Shakespeare’s characters and their real life counterparts (Henry V & Katherine = Duke & Duchess of Cambridge); I loved that she had Team Romeo vs. Team Hamlet vs. Team Twilight (Edward doesn’t stand a chance!); it was witty, it was smart, it was clever – something I would never attribute to “chick lit.”

But here is the rub:

I had 3 serious issues that I just couldn’t get past:
• During the casting of the production it is mentioned that the actors were cast by the OSF, not the director, Taz Buchanan – no way would that happen!! At least not in my theatre world.
• When referencing Elizabeth’s father winning the Nobel Prize, he is said to be attending on the arm of “Princess Sophia.” There is NO Princess Sophia of Sweden. (Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine).
• But this is the kicker – she has Elizabeth I “executing her sister, Mary Queen of Scots.” NOOOOOOOOO!!! Mary Queen of Scots was NOT HER SISTER!! She was her cousin (and a 2nd or 3rd at that…I think). Mary I was her sister! How does this slip by an editor? Even I, lowly public school educated, state undergraduate degree awarded human, knows that they weren’t sisters.

So…suffice it to say…the book I was ready to award 4 stars, dropped to a 3.

Totally took the shine off my reading experience.

But yes…overall, it was still fun.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review -- The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 3
Source:  Library copy
Genre: General fiction
Objectionable material: None

Frankie Addams is bummed. Her older brother is getting married and moving away. Now she will be stuck at home with her dad and housekeeper with no chance of leaving her small town Georgia home.

Why oh why won’t the newlyweds take her with them?

Carson McCullers brief but powerful novel expertly examines the mindset of a precocious 12 year old girl who is dealing with tremendous loneliness and trying to find her way in the world, all the while thinking she’s more mature than she really is.

This was an interesting novel. It was difficult to read initially because first: it was written almost entirely without chapters (drove me crazy!) and second: it took place almost entirely around the kitchen table between 3 characters, Frankie (aka F Jasmine or Francine), housekeeper, Berenice, and cousin, John Henry (which is why a stage adaptation would be brilliant).

Frankie was crazy. Really. What 12 year old isn’t? And I’m an expert – I am a mother of a 12 year old girl who acts just like Frankie. One minute she was playing – the next she was angry – the next she was threatening to run away from home – the next she was trying to hijack her brother’s honeymoon.

This is the type of book one needs to read in an English Lit class because the author obviously crafted a brilliant novel – but one I need explained to me. It wasn’t until the end that it occurred to me – oh – that might have been really good.

It also is a novel that requires a tremendous amount of patience.

But if you are a mom of a 12 year old girl – it was peaceful confirmation to learn that 12 year old girls in the 1940s were just as crazy as modern day 12 year olds – just without electronics.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review -- A Northern Light

My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 3
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  YA; historical fiction; suspense; women's fiction
Objectionable material: Minor language

Mattie Gokey was born during the wrong century -- the early 1900's was not a good time to be a woman.

An aspiring writer and academic, Mattie must labor away on her father's farm or work at a local resort, instead of pursuing her dreams at Barnard.

While working at the resort, Mattie becomes intimately involved in an accident on the property -- a young woman is found drowned and her companion missing -- as a result of a capsized boat. But Mattie has in her possession letters that may prove it wasn't an accident after all.

Jennifer Donnelly's novel, A Northern Light, was a rich historical novel about Mattie's dreams and aspirations to move off the family farm and make an independent life for herself.

The author's emotionally charged dialogue and characters were a joy to read.
I especially liked the author's use of vocabulary words as a tool for Mattie's character.  It was effective and I learned so many new words!

However, the novel was stuck trying to do two things at once: was it a murder mystery? or women's historical fiction? I wish the author had picked one and stuck with it.

But, overall a satisfying book and I would like to read more by her.