Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Goldfinch - Book Review

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The writer's job is to go out into the world, record what they can and then do their best to share it with the reader. Tartt does a wonderful job of taking her audience into the world of art crimes, loss, furniture restoration, drug addiction, mistaken love and redemption.

Theo, the protagonist, spends much of the novel trying to put back the pieces of his life that were blown apart by a terrorists bomb. The cast of characters are never flat, they live in a world Tartt has worked hard to give three dimensions. The reader will appreciate the time and craft she gives to making each character someone you cheer for or against.

It is a book that I could not put down and found to be engaging from the first page to the last.

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The Light Between Oceans - Book Review

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We make hundreds of decisions everyday. Our morals and ethics guide us, the voice of our conscience. But sometimes we travel down a dark path when we make the wrong decisions for the right reasons. That is the heart of the moral and ethical dilemna in The Light Between Oceans.

The uniqueness of this novel comes from the creation of sympathetic characters by author M.L. Stedman. As the story unfolds, Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, shattered by war and three miscarriages, are given a miraculous gift from the waves of the ocean. Their decisions from that point on lead to a heart wrenching story that will haunt you long after you close the book.

Sometimes there are no right answers.

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Navigating Early - Book Review

Navigating EarlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vanderpool creates an updated version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Updating the story to take in the special bond between two boys lost in a Maine military school due to deaths in the family.

Early Auden and Jack Baker form an unlikely friendship after Jack's military father drops Jack off in the Maine woods after Jack's mother dies. Amidst the rigor and structure of military school Jack is drawn to Early, a boy who is allowed to live outside the military routine. Soon Jack and Early are on their way, in search of a monster bear terrorizing the towns around the school.

Their journey forces them to confront pirates, slavery, and the losses that torture them both. Vanderpool creates memorable characters that make us which we were twelve again so that we could travel with them down the river, experiencing the world with awe and wonder.

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You Are Not So Smart - Book Review

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding YourselfYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever had a lucky shirt? A lucky seat where you watched all of your team's games? Ever believed something strange because you were unsure if the speaker was honest?

The old saying is true: "We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are." So who are we? Well we are mostly the same, trapped in our own heads, modifying our memories and actions to support our ideology.

David McRaney presents a straightforward, easy to read and understand little book about how our mind tries to make order out of the chaotic randomness of our existence on this rock.

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A Monster Calls - Book Review

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing story that is well told and a must read for anyone who has lost someone close. The metaphorical ending will leave you with literal tears.

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Big Little Lies - Book Review

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big Little Lies begins with a death, and even though we know that is the end, the entire narrative captures the reader in a web of ethics and morality.

The story revolved around spousal abuse, helicopter parents, bullying, infidelity, parenting, murder and friendship. Moriarty layers all of these themes in a well told tale about the parents supporting the Kindergarten class at Pirriwee Public School.

A great read whose events lead to a wonderfully twisted conclusion.

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Dark Places - Book Review

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gillian Flynn's second novel, Dark Places, previews Flynn's talent for creating twisted, broken characters. Each possesses a secret, a piece to solving the grisly murders of the Day family in rural Kansas the day after New Years. Using present day narration, with point of view flashbacks, Flynn slowly reveals the truth of the crime one hour at a time.

Libby, the lone survivor, drifting through life, living off the trust fund set up for her from charitable donations. Middle-aged, her account is empty, no one wants to donate to a middle-aged woman, decades removed from the events that made her a media darling. Encouraged by true crime enthusiasts and their $500 checks, she begins a journey to fill in the gaps in her memory.

Ben, convicted for the satanic murders and Libby's older brother, relives the day in memory. Each tragic moment building to the homicide.

Patty, Ben and Libby's mother, broke and overwhelmed with four children she cannot feed, an ex-husband she cannot get rid of and a looming foreclosure, relives the day of the murders and the decent into her own depression.

This novel can best be reviewed in two parts. The first 200 pages set up the characters, the crime, the questions people still have about Ben's guilt. This part drags at times, and often I would put down the novel and ask "Who cares?" or "What's the point?"

But, the last 140 pages put all of the characters into direct contact, forcing them to confront each other, to find the "truth." I ripped through the last third of the book, often times having to set it down for a moment to catch my breath.

I would say the payoff is worth the initial struggle and your perseverance pays off with the novels ending.

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