Category Archives: Adult Fiction

Such a Lovely Story: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd Adult Historical Fiction Rating : 5

I’m going to preface this with: This has been my favorite “meaningful” read this year.  I adore this book. I checked it out from the library, but at some point I would love to own my own copy…It’s that awesome. Sue Monk Kidd wrote The Secret Life of Bees which was amazing, however I was less impressed with The Mermaid Chair. In my opinion, this story blew both of them out of the water (but I’m slightly biased because I’m a sucker for a moving historical fiction about the abolition of slavery/women’s rights).

The Invention of Wings, tells the story from two different character’s perspectives as they grow from children into the women they are meant to be. Hettie, a slave girl also called Handful, for all of the mischief she causes and Sarah, the girl who is given Hettie as a “present” (although Sarah, as you’ll learn, despises slavery very much to her privileged family’s disapproval).  These characters work wonderfully together throughout the story. They are vastly different, in circumstance and personality, and even though they are an odd combination and not quite “friends,” they compliment each other in so many ways.

The story follows the girls through both of their difficult lives, one being a slave and the other supporting the abolition of slavery in a very pro-slavery nation. The girls develop into women, but Kidd does a wonderful job of showing the reader real life difficulties and personal conflicts still relevant today through these transformations.

All in all, I LOVE this book……..

Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller

The Storyteller
Jodi Picoult
Adult Fiction
Rating 3.75

Jodi Picoult hasn’t fascinated me in the past, but the WWII theme does and is what drew me to this story (and the cover being gorgeous doesn’t hurt either).  The Storyteller tells the stories of an ex-Nazi, a depressed recluse, and a Holocaust survivor by weaving their tales together into a rather heart wrenching novel.

But forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself.  It’s saying, “You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.” It’s saying, “You don’t get to trap me in the past.  I am worthy of a future.”

Sage, the modern day main character, carries guilt with her everywhere she goes and she hides behind it like it is a shield.  Her life is currently a hot mess and then everything becomes even more turned around when a supposed friend of hers decides to divulge his life-altering secret of having once been a Nazi.  Honestly, Sage annoyed me and the part I liked best about her was her bread making, which invariably made me extremely hungry every time I picked up the book!

What made this story for me though, was when it shifted characters and time periods to the Holocaust survivor during WWII.  This part, I felt, was well written, if hard to stomach at times.  It was fascinating and seemed well researched.  I also enjoyed the fairytale which was weaved throughout the story tying everything together and giving some added depth.

Despite the fact I enjoyed parts of the story so much, it definitely isn’t my favorite WWII novel.  Some of the situations were just so coincidental I almost wanted to slam the book shut at parts. However, it’s worth reading for the messages and at the end I wanted to go back and re-read some of it…but not on the top of my WWII fiction stories.

Other WWII fiction I’ve enjoyed: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

Any thoughts, comments, ideas from my lovely readers?

Book 10 and I’m Still Madly in Love: The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (Pink Carnation, #10)

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
Pink Carnation #10
Adult Historical Fiction;/Romance
Rating 5!!

Who knew randomly ordering a clearance book off Barnes and Noble years ago would end up with such an obsession.  I will NEVER regret ordering The Secret History of the Pink Carnation because I liked the title and the cover looked cool, because now I’m on the 10th one in the series and I still LOVE every word of it. You would think at 10 books in this series I would get sick of it, however, the exact opposite is true…I keep falling even more head over heels in love with Willig’s Pink Carnation series.  They are just pure amazingness : ) The wit in these books is outstanding and she is one of three authors (as of yet) who can make me laugh out loud while reading on a regular basis. Gah, I want the next one is this series NOW!

If you’re not familiar with Willig’s writing style, it is one that flips between two different storylines; one in the past (Bonaparte’s time) and one in present day. All except one of her novels in this series is written in this manner. In the first few books I felt the present day storyline could have been done away with, but I now I truly care about these modern folks and do actually take the time to read their stories. 

In Passion of the Purple Plumeria we have as the main character Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, the governess of Jane Wooliston. Miss Gwen has always been an imperious and rather humorous (because she’s so blunt) character in previous novels so I was very interested (and a little nervous) to see how a book focusing on her would turn out. I was afraid I wouldn’t believe her story because of what I had already read about her beforehand…but I needn’t have worried. Willig did a splendid job of keeping the story just as believable, action-packed, humorous, and as full of passion as all of her other novels. This one in particular had great banter back and forth between Miss Gwen and her Colonel Williams.

I wish I could get everyone to read this series….is the next one out yet?

Simply Wonderful: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed
Khaled Hosseini
Adult Fiction
Rating 5

So I finally read this…I put it off and put it off because, honestly, I just didn’t want to feel as depressed as I have with Hosseini’s previous novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I mean they were wonderfully written, but I felt so sad after reading them.  But, I finally bit the bullet and gave it a go…and guess what? I’m not sad! This was an amazing book, very well written…and not thoroughly depressing.  I gained something from it, which is always a wonderful feeling.

“J’aurais dû être plus gentille—I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that.”

I was really confused when I started reading this because of the format it was written in. It’s not your traditional linear story, nor your flip from present day to past with flashbacks between different characters.  It tells a cohesive story from the viewpoints of different characters throughout different parts of each of their lives, but they all fit together like one giant puzzle. And at the end you’ll go ‘Ahhh!’

For me, it was amazing to see how what seemed like one simple decision at the very beginning of the story, turned out to be one huge complicated…well mess.  It made me think “Hey, I shouldn’t judge people so harshly because there is probably a lot more to their story.”  The characters were constantly changing, but it’s only because of the different sides you of them throughout the story…it’s brilliant!  And one decision can change everything and impact many, many people.

I would love to read this again someday to explore all the different aspects of the characters and how Hosseini managed to pull it all together.

Talk to me about this one!

Magical, Heartbreaking, but Wonderful: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman
Adult Fiction
Rating 4

I shouldn’t have doubted that I would like something else by Gaiman. Stardust is so amazing, I don’t think anything else he has written can be bad (although I haven’t read anything else so don’t hold me to it!). Ocean at the End of the Lane wasn’t as spectacular as Stardust for me, probably because it took place in our world, but it was still an awesome read. It was creepy (not enough to give me nightmares though!) but with sentimentality and with passages I enjoyed reading over a couple times because they were written so well or just struck a chord with me.

I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.

The characters in this story are wonderful. The main character, a young boy, narrates for us and we see events unfold through his eyes, which at times is heartbreaking and at others insightful and uplifting. It was very interesting to view some very adult situations through a child’s viewpoint (though of course it was written by an adult, it’s still intriguing). There are also three great otherworldly ladies; the Hempstocks. A grandma, mom, and daughter who really, for me anyway, made the story…I loved them. They were mysterious and knowledgeable and the kind of people I would love to know.  Then there is this terrifying really creepy villain who scared the bejeezus out me.

As I said earlier, the story takes place in our world with the fantasy element being very blended into the real world. It’s hard to describe the plot without giving too much away…so I will just say it was magical… and a bit heartbreaking… yet still wonderful!

Unique and Thoughtful: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker
Adult Fiction
Rating 4

I wasn’t sure what was I expecting with this one, but it sure wasn’t this. I mean, I knew what a golem and a jinni were going into it and I expected a grown up story, but this was just a very different story, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it.  The Golem and the Jinni was a very unique story, a bit slow at times (especially when you’ve been used to reading YA for a while) but a worthwhile read. There were meaningful passages and the way it was written was quite magical. The conversations between the Golem and the Jinni were my favorite parts of all though.

“What do you think?” he pressed. “Do you believe in their God?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “The Rabbi did. And he was the wisest person I’ve ever met.  So yes, maybe I do.”

“A man tells you to believe and you believe?”

“It depends on the man. Besides, you believe the stories that you were told.  Have you met a jinni who could gran wishes?”

“No, but that ability has all but disappeared.”

“So, it’s just stories now. And perhaps the humans did create their God.  But does that make him less real? Take this arch.  They created it.  Now it exists.”

“Yes, but it doesn’t grant wishes,” he said.  “It doesn’t do anything.”

“True,” she said, “but I look at it, and I feel a certain way. Maybe that’s its purpose.”

He wanted to ask, what good was a God that only existed to make you feel a certain way? But he left off.

The story takes place in 1899 New York City which was lovely and flips between quite a few different characters point of views.  They were never hard to keep straight, but at first you wonder why in the world you’re reading about all of these seemingly random people.  I was so impressed by this element in the story; nothing was really placed in it without a purpose even though I was skeptical throughout while reading, Wecker proved me wrong.

One of the beset parts of the book though was that it really makes the reader think.  In almost every character, there seemed to be some part of them which was relatable (to me at least). And the ideas of beliefs, aspirations,  and freedom were remarkable.  So if you’re in the mood for a read that is more of a thinker that you have the time to enjoy and mull over, rather than a quick read, this is a good choice!

A “Real” Vampire Novel: Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Stoker's Manuscript

Stoker’s Manuscript
Royce Prouty
Adult Fiction
Rating 4

I was lucky enough to snag an ARC copy of this off of LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s program.  This wasn’t your now typical “sparkly” I’m-in-love-with-a vampire novel, it was a good ol’ traditional creepy “real” vampire story.  (Side note: the “romantic” vampires are really getting on my nerves.  They are soo over-protective, self-absorbed, and cocky in a bad way…ugh.)

The story follows an orphan, Joseph, originally from Romania who has become a rare manuscript and bookseller in America after he and his brother were rescued from their unfortunate circumstances. Now, he faces a sale of Stoker’s original manuscript of Dracula, to an unknown and unusual buyer back in his homeland, however this sale might be much more than Joseph bargained for…Possibly an introduction to the world of vampires, and not very patient or understanding vampires. (In other words, the way vampires should be…despite the fact I do read about the romantic kind too.)

Stoker’s Manuscript takes you to Romania which is a place I love reading about and has wonderful characters within it.  It’s creepy, but not scary (not even as scary as The Historian by Kostova was for me) which was appreciated and the plot had a nice pace.  I loved The Historian which is why I really wanted to read this one, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Overall, a very enjoyable vampire novel : )

Review: The Storm Protocol by Iain Cosgrove

The Storm Protocol

The Storm Protocol
Iain Cosgrove
Adult Thriller
Rating 4

I received this book from the author and it was an enjoyable read out of my typical reading zone, but something I liked nonetheless. The Storm Protocol is full of action, mysteries, gangsters, detectives, and a brand new, extremely dangerous drug about to get into the wrong hands. (I just watched Gangster Squad so reading this made me think of that movie a lot throughout even though they’re quite different.)

I enjoyed the setting of this book a lot, as it is set in both America and Ireland. My only issue was that there are so many character points of view, it was hard to remember who was who throughout the story without flipping back and double-checking.  But, like I mentioned in my last post, that could be because I am reading so many books at the same time and I’m not very good at it.

Other than that, a fast-paced thriller : )

Smitten with Dan Brown: Review of Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

Inferno #4
Dan Brown
Adult Fiction
Rating 5

So I’ve been away from my computer for days…My excuse; Dan Brown (and Summer Reading Program madness blurgh :S ).  I know a lot of people are giving horrible reviews of this book, but, honestly, I loved it.  Dan Brown is one of the few popular “niche” writers I enjoy reading. Sure his writing is pretty formulaic and you can tell it is definitely a “Dan Brown book,” but they are fun and I find them to be interesting because of how they make me think about the world while I’m reading them. Yes, I know the ideas in his books take real facts and then put them into extraordinary circumstances, but having books based in facts is a cool idea.  (I love researching the facts in his books just to “double-check” them and see what really is out there.) Plus, the descriptions in a few of his books, especially the Langdon series, make me add places to my “Need to Travel to List” (Paris, Turkey, Italy…the list is never-ending).   Ok, enough defending Dan Brown, he is far richer than me so I don’t feel too bad for him I just don’t want people thinking this book is terrible just because some people want to rant about how horrible it is he has another book out.

Anywho,  Inferno was far better than the last book in the series, Lost Symbol , which I quite honestly detested (mainly for one reason which I won’t state here because it is a major spoiler).  Inferno centers around Dante and his famous work The Divine Comedy, a madman with an overzealous belief in overpopulation, and some very interesting characters.  Having never read the entire Divine Comedy (and not liking what I tried to read in college a few years ago) I was skeptical of this one, but a thorough understanding of Dante and Hell is not necessary as Brown, of course, provides plenty of facts about the writer, the literature, the time period, and all kinds of other fun stuff.  The story moves along quickly like all of Brown’s other novels, making it hard to find a place to stop reading for the night.  Plus, having read all of Dan Brown’s other books before, I honestly did not guess the ending to this one!

So, yes I do admit to enjoying Dan Brown books : )

Did you like this book? Are you a fan of Dan Brown?  Are there any formulaic or niche writer’s you enjoy reading?

Powerful, Discussible Story! Review: The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

 

The Clock of Life
Nancy Klann-Moren
Historical Fiction
Rating 4.5

What a powerful story (it made me cry, but for a good reason) ! I received this book from the author Nancy Klann Moren (check out her website here)and once I started reading it, tore through it in less than a day! I enjoyed the characters and really felt for them (which makes or breaks a book for me).  The events within the story also felt realistic to me for the time period (Small town Mississippi in the 1980’s).  So many different ideas were covered within this story I couldn’t believe they all fit together so seamlessly; but they sure did. This would make a great book club/discussion piece!  There are sooo many possible topics within this story to sit and think about or talk over with others; Vietnam war, segregation, how the fight for equality has changed, depression, over-medication, and the list goes on and on.

The Clock of Life follows the transformation of Jason Lee from a kind-hearted young boy into a mature man with a purpose in life.  Jason Lee must overcome and learn about many difficult situations the hard way.  His best friend is a black boy, Samson, which he finds out isn’t easily accepted in small town Mississipi in the early 1980’s.  Along with being friends with Samson despite the feelings of others, Jason must learn from everyone except his mom about his dad, J.L., who died in the Vietnam War before he was born.  What Jason discovers about his father inspires him, yet also scares him (because how can he live up to a man so brave?)  

 Jason’s mom, Cassie also offers a great storyline and discussion point within the book.  Cassie’s life is completely turned upside down when her husband is killed in Vietnam, but she doesn’t deal with her feelings for many years down the road resulting in multiple issues for her.  I loved reading about her and thought it was great that her element was added to the story.  But, my favorite character in The Clock of Life is Jason’s  quirky uncle and Cassie’s twin Mooks.  Mooks, injured in Vietnam is lovable and inspiring and a wonderful addition to the story.  All of these characters and their individual stories interweave beautifully adding up to a powerful and completely satisfying ending.

Be sure to check this one out and look forward to an author interview in the future!

Also, congratulations to Daniela over at YA Book Season on snagging the signed copy of Cinder! Check out her site for some awesome YA reviews!

What are some of your favorite books about segregation, racism, or Vietnam?

%d bloggers like this: