Book Review: The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham

The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Published by Vintage International on February 10, 2004 (originally published April 1925)

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, classics, historical fiction

Format & Length: paperback, 246

Source: purchased

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.

The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham”

Advertisements

Audiobook Review: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc. on April 7, 2015 (originally published October 19, 2011)

Series: The Neapolitan Novels, #1

Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction

Format & Length: audiobook, 12:38:45

Source: library

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila, who represent the story of a nation and the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets, the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow – and as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge – Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

With My Brilliant Friend, the first in a series, Ferrante proves herself to be one of Italy’s greatest storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted pause-resister, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations – a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new listeners to her work.

Continue reading “Audiobook Review: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante”

Book Review: The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Published by  St. Martin’s Press on April 23, 2019 (expected)

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense

Format & Length: e-book, 352

Source: Netgalley

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.
The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead?
Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?

With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth”

5 Contemporary Books to Read This Spring

5 Contemporary Books to Read This Spring

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m something of a seasonal mood reader. But that doesn’t mean that every season prompts the same mood. This particular season, as winter is slowly coming to a close, I’m feeling partial to picking up a good contemporary book.

Today, I’d like to share five contemporary novels that I love recommending for a variety of reasons. Some of these are lighter in tone and some deal with more serious themes. But they all stuck with me after finishing. These are all backlist books, published in 2018 or earlier, and are arranged from most recent release to the oldest. I hope at least one of them will work for you!

Ready to see my picks?

Continue reading “5 Contemporary Books to Read This Spring”

February Reading Wrap Up

February Reading Wrap UpFebruary was a really good month for me overall! For starters, it’s my birthday month and I was able to celebrate with family and friends multiple times. And I read some really good books too!

I started the month out with a bang with a book I devoured and wound up rating a five. Most everything else I read was good to great for me, along with a reread of Harry Potter when I was in need of some comfort listening. I did come across one book that just didn’t keep my interest and wound up not finishing. But I’m trying to get better at putting books down when they don’t work for me, so I’m actually counting that as a win.

Ready to see what I read and reviewed?

Continue reading “February Reading Wrap Up”

Book Review: Justice Gone, by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone, by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Published by  Roundfire Books on Feburary 22, 2019

Series: Dr. Tessa Thorpe, #1

Genre(s): fiction, thriller

Format & Length: e-book, 336

Source: author

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

Continue reading “Book Review: Justice Gone, by N. Lombardi Jr.”

Book Review: Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand, by Michael Ban

Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand, by Michael Ban

Elai nelson and the Storm on the Sand by Michael Ban

Published by  Michael Ban Books on October 28, 2018

Series: Fire on the Clouds Trilogy, #2

Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 426

Source: author

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

So, you think you had a bad day? Let me tell you about mine. My parents got murdered. The ones from Earth who’d adopted me as a kid, as well as the ones I was born to, on another planet. I was chased and almost killed by assassins. I crossed an inter-dimensional portal and found myself on a strange new world. I met some dwarves with the worst dress sense I’d ever seen. I found out that it was somehow my job to save the world from some great evil. And I almost got killed by assassins, again. Yes, that was my Monday. How was yours?

It’s hard enough being a teenager. It’s insanely hard for a teenager who spent most of his time with a keyboard and a mouse to suddenly have to handle a sword and fight monsters. While having a crush on a couple of really beautiful girls who are way, way out of my league. And don’t even get me started about the ships. Great big sailing ships, smelly fishing boats, flying ships. Been there, done that, fell off a couple of them. Did I tell you that I was put in command of a small army? Yes, I was, and I promptly messed it all up. Lots of people died because of me. So now you know, teenagers don’t make great army generals.

But, after all that, I’ve been given a chance to redeem myself. To try to fix things. The big horde of monsters that I got my ass kicked by the last time? They’re still around, and meaner than ever. But I’ve been given a second try to stop them, and I’m sure as heck not going to waste it. Deserts, rivers, flying monsters, thieves, assassins, vicious bankers. None of that’s going to stand in my way. I’m going to finish the job, even if it’s just me and my trusty talking sword.

Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand is the second book in a young adult fantasy trilogy, charting the hilarious and whimsical journey of a 16-year old city kid, as he journeys through a mystical realm and battles enemies, humans and monsters alike, with his smarts, his courage, and a backpack full of toys. The first book, Elai Nelson and the Prophecy of the Child, is available on Amazon and other merchants.

Continue reading “Book Review: Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand, by Michael Ban”

Audiobook Review: The Book of Essie, by Meghan Maclean Weir

The Book of Essie, by Meghan Maclean Weir

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

Published by  Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on June 12, 2018

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, contemporary

Format & Length: audiobook, 11:09:13

Source: library

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family’s hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart.

Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks,a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

Continue reading “Audiobook Review: The Book of Essie, by Meghan Maclean Weir”

How do you react to dystopian fiction?

How do you react to dystopian fiction?I was catching up with a friend recently over dinner and our conversation turned to books (as it inevitably does with a book lover). When my friend asked what I’d been reading lately, I shared a bit about a book I was reading at the time that had me thoroughly intrigued and itching to discuss with someone.

That book was Vox, which posits a world in which women come to be allotted only 100 words per day. After sketching out the premise, I was ready to dive into conversation mode, but my friend blurted out, “That sounds horrifying! Who wrote this garbage, a man?!” And in that moment, I was stunned. Nothing I could say after that would persuade her to even think twice about the book.

This line of conversation started me thinking about the different reactions I’ve seen to dystopian fiction, so I wanted to take some time today to talk about them. To be clear, I’m specifically talking about reactions to the book’s concept and not necessarily its execution or whether the book was actually good or entertaining or even enjoyable. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways that readers respond to these types of stories, but these are the reactions I’ve come across most.

Who wrote this garbage? It must have been a *insert your descriptive here*

I’ve seen this particular reaction most when the book in question has a premise in which a particular people group is belittled, minimized, or shamed in some way. More often than not, the person I’ve seen react like this belongs to that people group, so I have to wonder if it just hit too close to home?

This isn’t realistic

I’ve come across this reaction most with readers that are new to the genre and didn’t quite know what to expect. Since dystopia is the opposite of a utopia and therefore inherently flawed and problematic, it’s understandable why someone might think this if they didn’t know to expect it going in.

It’s a cautionary tale

This is probably the reaction I see most. I expect because reading about a worst case scenario that feels nearly plausible in our current society can make someone sit up and take notice of the parallels.

So, I’m curious. What are your thoughts on dystopian fiction and how do you react to it as a genre? And does your response change depending on the premise of a particular book?

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 28, 2017

Series: Strange the Dreamer, #1

Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 528

Source: library

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

 

Continue reading “Book Review: Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor”