Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Pigeon Engish is a heart breaking story at Harri, who along with his sister and mother, move from Ghana to an indigent inner city project. Harri makes a convincing eleven year old narrator, feisty and first, in disparity to the misfortune that surround him in the form of dearth, prostitution and gangs. As Harri tries to navigate his new life he finds himself evenly deterred but yet enthralled by the crime that surrounds him. I was extremely touched by and dismayed by many elements of this story, knowing the reality as I grew up in the same element.

5 Stars

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending is a tale of young relationships, teenage torment and middle-aged recollections, dreams and laments. This is a diminutive manuscript coming in at 150 pages but every word packs punch. Only on looking back do you begin to realize the intricacy of the story as you begin to wonder whether your memory of earlier events or his is correct. This is one of those books that definitely needs to be read a second time.

5 Stars

Snowdrops: A Novel by A.D. Miller

Snowdrops is the story of Nick Platt, is a British Lawyer, who when traveling home one night on the train fights off a mugger. The mugger’s intended target, Masha, and her younger sister Katya became a central part of Nick’s life. As Masha and Nick begin to become involved he is introduced to their aunt Tatiana Vladimirovna and finds himself obliged to help out in the sale of her apartment. In general Snowdrops is a substandard book. There is a continual guarantee of action but then it never conveys it.

2 Stars

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moral Disorder and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood

Moral Disorder and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood is a manageable assemblage of interconnected short stories, centered on one woman at different stages throughout her life. The stories are told mainly from Nell's point of view, with important depictions of her sister Lizzie, her mother, her partner Tig, and even ranch animals. I loved the book. While the book is tranquil and enjoyable to read, the emotive and political content is stunning.
5 Stars

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall is a stimulating force of imagination. In other words this book is just plain NUTS !! It begins with Eric Sanderson who awakes one morning with amnesia and then goes on with the story which is actually about preservation instinct and a person’s mission to regain a missing identity. Really really weird.

4 Stars

Wilderness Tips: Stories by Margaret Atwood

Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood is an anthology of ten short stories that are touching but yet extremely unsettling. Each story exemplifies a split second in a person’s life that changes them forever. They grow from immature and naive to mature and harsh in just a few pages and all of the stories ended up being dark with themes of loss, missed chances, blunders, and sad comprehension. While the themes are all dark all ten of the stories had the same truth that rings true in every reader’s life. Time flies by quickly, changes occur, choices are made but in the end it is you that has to live with the consequences.

5 Stars

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is an marvelous and breathtaking book. It exhibits paranormal realism and entwine it through the lives of the Buendia family and the town of Macondo. This book is so full of meaning and philosophical with such powerful language then you end up loving and obsessing over this book. I've read other reviews of this book and it seems that people either love it or hate it as you can tell I'm in the love camp. The writing is striking. My English copy included a family tree in the front that I referenced frequently due to the amount of characters.

5 Stars

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Englishman's Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Englishman's Boy is set in the Old West and Hollywood, was awarded the Governor General's Award in Canada in 1997. It tells the story of Shorty McAdoo, a Canadian cowboy caught up in an 1873 Indian slaughter, who goes on to become a movie star in the 1920s. Portrayed as an example of the American frontier by studio publicists, McAdoo has to hide the sinister elements of his early life on the range. The storytelling was exceptional and I really enjoyed the Hollywood scenes.

5 Stars

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Sucks to Be Me was an amusing and easy read with a definite twist on vampires and coming of age that is original. Mina grew up as just the typical teenager, with the exception of her parents being vampires. Mina always knew she had to keep it a secret, but she never realized that she herself was kept a secret. Her parents never told the Vampire Council about her and know they've been found out. Now Mina has to go to vampire classes and decide whether she wants to be a vampire and if she doesn't, then she will have to have her memory erased. With the addition of love interests and a small heartbreak you can see this book not as a vampire story but more of a coming of age novel.

4 Stars

Trash by Dorothy Allison

Trash by Dorothy Allison is written in the Southern custom with a twist, she's an out and proud. Coming from an underprivileged family that places significance on how many babies you can produce and how well you marry this collection of short memoir narratives is written as if Allison is sitting right in front of you exposing all of her secrets. The stories can be agonizing but also sensual and charming.

5 Stars

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Keeping You a Secret was the first gay YA book I have ever read and I have to say the book is utterly incredible! When I was first introduced to Holland I was unimpressed due to the nature of her relationship with her stepsister, Faith. However, I was transfixed by Cece from the very beginning with her boldness. I just could not get enough of her. Anyway this story jumped off the pages and I loved every minute of the two hours it took me to read it.

5 Stars

Rare Birds by Edward Riche

A luminescent, simple read Rare Birds is an amusing story about a restaurant owner and his off the wall neighbor. Jointly they develop a plan to increase the restaurant's popularity and reputation. This is a great story of one man’s fall and his rise back up through deception. The book definitely has a laugh out loud quality and the crazy neighbor was by far the best part of the book.

4 Stars

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Touch by Alexi Zentner

Stephen Boucher, the recently hired pastor of a church in Sawgamet, has come home to be with his mother as she lives her last days. During his last night with her he flashbacks to the events that have ruined his life and the lives of those who live and work in the town. Late into the night Stephen begins the story of three generations of the Boucher family. His grandfather came here to find his wealth in gold but found love instead. His father, who neglected as a baby, strives to be everything to his children and loses everything in the process. This book is emotionally charged and at times hard to read but yet it is still a stunning book that you can not put down until the last page is finished.

5 Stars

Mean Boy by Lynn Coady

Mean Boy is a brilliant spoof on creative writing schools and the remarkable life of a poet. I thought the author's characters were dead on, and she doesn't include an easy plot resolution. Her books are appealing, and yet impulsive. I did think that there was a sort of bogus resolution where she could have ended the book. The real ending felt anticlimactic, and like an attempt to finish on a note of seriousness, rather than wittiness. But the humor in the novel is so distorted by the sympathy and anxiety I felt for the main character and because of that I would have chosen the bogus ending to the real one.

3 Stars

The Free World: A Novel by David Bezmozgis

The Free World was very different from any book I've read before. In the beginning, Bezmozgis' writing method seemed mostly dialogue, but soon it was entirely ordinary. The numerous flashbacks filled in the back story brilliantly. If you are at all interested in the Soviet emigrant experience or really any emigrants experience this is a good book for you.

4 Stars