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Review Date: 2/18/2014
Beyond the Orchard is the story of an English woman and her Saudi Arabian husband who move to a small village in Turkey. The book chronicles her journey from the decision to move to a small village, buying land and building a house, and learning the language and the ways of the village. The author does most of this without her husband as he is detained for over 2 years in Saudi Arabia.
The book is interesting and a nice glimpse into the life of a small Turkish village. It is a fast, easy read and while it is not an amazing book, I was interested to see how it turns out.
BlameAuthor: Book Type: Hardcover25
Review Date: 1/19/2014
Blame is the story of a young alcoholic woman, Patsy and where her journey through and recovery from alcohol take her. Patsy's world comes to a crashing halt one morning when she comes to in jail only to be told that she is responsible for the deaths of two people as a result of drinking and driving. This begins her journey that includes the slow realization that she has the disease of alcoholism, surviving prison, and ultimately learning to live the new life she is thrust into upon her release.
Blame takes you into the world of alcohol, prison, and recovery. The book shows just the kind of destruction that alcoholism can produce and the struggle that people experience to recover. While the book accurately portrays many if the aspects of alcoholism and recovery, I wish the author would have also portrayed alcoholism as a disease - this is a little-understood fact but a crucial one in developing a thorough understanding of alcoholism.
Knowing from the book jacket that Patsy ultimately finds redemption from her crime, I read the second half of this book with much anticipation. Along the way, you see Patsy learn how to live in society sober and the obvious struggle involved. Patsy develops relationships, resumes her career, and gets married. Unfortunately, I found the second half of the book to be somewhat slow and when I finally reached the part where Patsy learns the truth of the night of her car accident, I was disappointed. While most of the book felt very real to me, this part felt forced and lacking authenticity.
I was also disappointed in the way Patsy's marriage unfolded. Perhaps this is because I like happy endings, and while not an unhappy one, I would have liked for this to resolve itself differently. On a personal note, my reaction to this aspect of the book may also be because I myself am married to an older man with children and we have found such joy and happiness in our life together that I want to see that portrayed as possible.
Ultimately, I am glad that I read Blame but I cannot say that I loved it. However, I appreciate the look into what the disease of alcoholism can do to the many lives it affects and the experiences it can take a person to.
Review Date: 2/17/2014
The Glass Castle is a captivating story of abject poverty, adventure, and survival. Jeannette Walls beautifully and simplistically shares the story of her childhood with an alcoholic father and a mother uninterested in playing the role of mother.
The Glass Castle definitely has its share of heartbreak as the reader gets a glimpse into the life of a family living a life of extreme poverty. But there is so much about this story that is more than just the story of a poor family struggling to survive. At times as I was reading the story, I felt such admiration for the lessons that Rex and Rose Mary Walls taught their children and the experiences they gave them. Certainly this is not a childhood that I would wish for, but amidst the addiction, unemployment, starvation, and often the hopelessness of this family there is a beauty in the journey.
The story is bittersweet; it ends well for some members of the Walls family, and sadly for some others. While at times during the book I wanted to scream at Rex and Rose Mary for their actions, at others times I wanted to applaud them. The story is tragic and troubling, but also triumphant. Definitely read this one.
Review Date: 1/11/2014
Helpful Score: 2
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, told through letters exchanged among the multiple characters, is a charming and emotional story of the small island during and after the German occupation of World War II. The main character, Juliet, is an author who begins - quite by coincidence - researching the background of the uniquely named literary society on the island of Guernsey. As she gets to know more and more of the inhabitants of the island she finds the inspiration for her next book and much more. This book was easy to read and while at first I was wary of the format (the entire book is letters) I found it unique and could not put it down. The characters are well-developed and the story, while a little bit predictable, was delightful none the less.
The HelpAuthor: Book Type: Hardcover2454
Review Date: 1/19/2014
The Help is an excellent book. Not only is the story compelling, but it also opened my eyes to what life was like not so long ago in the south. As I read this book and came to know the character, I seethed at the words and actions of some of them and cheered for those standing up to them. The Help is humurous, inspiring, and sad at the same time. There are parts that will warm your heart as well as break your heart. I highly recommend this book.
Review Date: 1/13/2014
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book as a kid (probably in middle school or junior high) and I have never forgotten it. Recently, I purchased a copy and read it again. While this is a book that is meant for young adults and is definitely a fantasy, I would recommend this to any adult. I am not a big fantasy reader, but there is just something about the characters that are in this book - I absolutely fell in love with Pidge and Brigit and all of the incredibly imaginative characters they come across throughout the story. There are a lot of references to Irish folklore that I am not at all familiar with, but that did not prevent me from enjoying this book immensely. Put this on your list to read!
Review Date: 1/13/2014
Helpful Score: 1
I found Life of Pi to be an intriguing and interesting read. While the first 1/3 of the book is background about the operation of zoos and getting to know the character Pi, I found that section of the book to be really interesting and informative. Once the actual shipwreck occurs, there are some parts of the book that are difficult to read; however I could not put this book down. I found Pi's story of survival to be absolutely amazing, and while fiction, the story feels real with few exceptions.
One thing I found to be a bit confusing about the book was the sections scattered throughout that were written from the perspective of someone who apparently was interviewing Pi many years after he was rescued. These parts of the book didn't seem to fit in to me, especially because there was nothing at the end to sort of "wrap up" these interviews with Pi. Other than that, I thought this was an excellent read.
Review Date: 2/7/2014
Rise and Shine was a quick and easy read for me, and while I enjoyed it, I did not love it. At times the writing did not appeal to me as the author interjects long descriptive segments into conversations or interactions between characters. While the author has an obvious gift for painting the picture of her characters and setting, this detracts from the story for me.
As far as the plot, it held my interest throughout the book. I enjoyed the obvious bond between sisters in this book, even though at times I disliked how both sisters acted; which overall made the book seem more real. However, some pieces of the story felt unrealistic to me, most poignantly the idea that a news anchor would have been persecuted to the extent that Meghan was considering the circumstances. I also didn't find any of the characters to be particularly likable, with the exception of Leo.
Having said all that, I would recommend the book, but wouldn't list it as a favorite. I enjoyed the story even if I didn't love it.
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