Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Skinny – by Diana Spechler

Skinny – by Diana Spechler

Skinny, at first glance, looks like a “beach read”.  The cover shows two young women/teenagers wearing swimsuits.  Their arms are linked, and they are at the beach.

The story in this book, however, is not just a “fluffy summer read”.  It covers some very deep and serious concepts including body image, eating disorders, and how the guilt a person carries can influence her actions.

The book places the reader directly inside the head of the main character, Gray Lachmann. She is 26 years old, struggling to cope with her father’s death, and stuck in a pattern of compulsive eating.  She believes that she has killed her father, and is completely consumed by guilt.

Continue Reading “Skinny – by Diana Spechler”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on 1984 – by George Orwell

1984 – by George Orwell

The book 1984, by George Orwell, is an incredibly depressing dystopia about what it is like to live under a totalitarian government that wants to control absolutely everything – including people’s thoughts.  Written in 1949, the book describes a bleak, hopeless, future.

The reader views it all through the eyes of the main character, Winston Smith.  It is the book where the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” originated.

The first time I read this book was when I was in high school.  It was assigned reading for one of my English classes.  If I had to guess, I think this assignment was given when I was a Junior, so that would put the actual year at around 1989 or 1990.

Continue Reading “1984 – by George Orwell”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Haweswater – by Sarah Hall

Haweswater – by Sarah Hall

Haweswater starts with a violent birth, includes a flood, and ends not long after an explosion.  Yet, it is not a book that fits into the adventure genre.  The story takes place in, and around, the town of Mardale, which really did exist.  So did the Haweswater dam, a structure that takes on epic proportions in the story.  Yet, this book could not truly be described as historical fiction.

Instead, it is an incredibly compelling work of fiction about the interconnections between people and the land they live on.  I found myself falling into the story and wishing I could walk around the landscape described within it.

The main character is a woman named Janet.  The author, Sarah Hall, built this character from an old legend about a mysterious woman named Janet Tree.  Fiction and reality are intertwined like the roots of a plant in this beautiful, tragic, book.

Continue Reading “Haweswater – by Sarah Hall”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Chosen – by Chaim Potok

The Chosen – by Chaim Potok

The Chosen by Chaim Potok is a book that my brother recommended I read. There are very few books that he likes enough to recommend them to me. So far, each of the books he has suggested to me, over the years, have been incredibly compelling.

Typically, my brother chooses books that fit squarely into the fantasy genre. The Chosen, however, has no fantasy elements.

It focuses on two Jewish boys live in the same neighborhood. Both boys play baseball. My brother is not Jewish, and doesn’t care much about sports. Despite this, he liked The Chosen, possibly because the book has a deep story with a lot of social complexity running through it.

Continue Reading “The Chosen – by Chaim Potok”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Gun Seller – by Hugh Laurie

The Gun Seller – by Hugh Laurie

The Gun Seller is a novel written by Hugh Laurie. The cover describes him as “star of the FOX-TV series House.” Those who have watched the show would recognize Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, the disgruntled, dysfunctional, yet brilliant, man that the other characters both loved and hated.

I couldn’t help but “hear” the voice of Dr. House in the words and thoughts of Thomas Lang, the main character of The Gun Seller. I’m not sure that I would automatically cast the role that way, so to speak, if the cover didn’t connect House to this book by Laurie.  The book has nothing at all to do with the show.

Continue Reading “The Gun Seller – by Hugh Laurie”

fiction 0 comments on The Fifth Vial – by Michael Palmer

The Fifth Vial – by Michael Palmer

Three very strong main characters live what appears to be completely separate lives. Over the course of this story, their lives become intertwined in dramatic and tragic ways. What’s the connection? In short, it has something to do with organ donation.

The Fifth Vial has a rather large amount of characters in it. I suspect Game of Thrones has way more characters than this book did. If you could keep track of all of them, you will have no difficulty with The Fifth Vial. For me, the book was easier to comprehend once I’d managed to figure out which characters were the most important.

Continue Reading “The Fifth Vial – by Michael Palmer”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Hours – by Michael Cunningham

The Hours – by Michael Cunningham

In general, I make an effort to read a book before I watch the movie that is based upon it. Often, this makes the movie more interesting, as I already have become familiar with who the main characters are and how they are connected to each other.

Sometimes, this backfires, and I end up sadly disappointed by the movie that doesn’t match the quality of a book that I enjoyed. Once in a while, I see a movie before I have any idea that it was based upon a book. Such is the case with The Hours.

My overall impression of the movie was that there was something going on that I was missing. What were these characters thinking about in silence? It must have been important, but I could not deduce what, exactly, it was.

Continue Reading “The Hours – by Michael Cunningham”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Cove – by Ron Rash

The Cove – by Ron Rash

The Cove starts with a mystery. A man has been hired by the government to drive out and notify residents that the area they live in was going to be intentionally flooded, and also to evict them. He goes into a place called “the cove”, happy that there is no one living there anymore.

The buildings are abandoned. When he uses the well to get some water he finds a human skull. Who was it? What happened? Ron Rash does, eventually, answer those questions for his readers. My first impulse, after finishing the story, was to go back and re-read the beginning portion where the skull was found.

Continue Reading “The Cove – by Ron Rash”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on After – by Amy Efaw

After – by Amy Efaw

They say that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. This time, though, the cover was the reason why I decided to pick up After, flip it over, and find out what it was about. It shows a teenager with her hair pulled back in a bun, who is wearing sweatpants and leaning up against a wall.

Except, it isn’t exactly a wall she is leaning on. It’s more like a mirror, that shows her reflection. Look closely, and you will notice that the mirror image teenager appears to be pregnant. The visual was compelling enough for me to want to find out the whole story.

Continue Reading “After – by Amy Efaw”

Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Shopgirl – by Steve Martin

Shopgirl – by Steve Martin

Shopgirl is a fitting title for this book. One of the main characters is Mirabelle, a twenty-something wallflower who spends a large part of her days behind the glove counter at Neiman’s. She is a girl who works in a shop.

The book really captures the boredom that surrounds that type of retail job. She sells things that no one wants to buy. She spends her days arranging the gloves, waiting for customers that rarely appear, and daydreaming until it is time for her to go home. The next day is the same, and so is the next one. You can feel time slow down to a crawl within the walls of Neiman’s as Mirabelle is working her shift.

Continue Reading “Shopgirl – by Steve Martin”