Jen K’s #CBR5 Reviews #146-148: Final Three

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong – 4 stars.  Elena narrated tale involving the Pack in Alaska.  Straightforward story.

The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill – 4 stars.  He doesn’t get it perfect but is amazingly progressive for its time, and could probably still teach some more conservative minded people some things today.

Devil’s Brood – 3 stars.  A little too much detail, but otherwise a very well researched historical fiction novel about when it all fell apart for Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Lots of plots and rebellions against a brilliant monarch by his headstrong sons.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #151: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

In 2060, disgraced Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz is the only survivor left after an expedition to the planet of Rakhat. He’s grievously injured, both physically and mentally, and refuses to speak to the investigators who are desperate to find out what went wrong, far away on the alien planet. Sandoz stands accused of some pretty terrible crimes, and slowly the story of what took place several light years away is revealed.

Proof of extra terrestrial life is discovered in 2019 in a small and fairly insignificant listening post in Puerto Rico. While the United Nations and other global powers are still trying to figure out what to do about the discovery, the Jesuits organise a scientific mission in secret, sending eight people to the newly discovered planet, Rakhat, hoping to establish communication and peaceful relations with the aliens whose heartbreaking songs proved their existence on Earth. Emilio is one of the eight, and at least six of the other members of the exploration crew are close personal friends of his. “They meant no harm” is the final line in the prologue, and it’s such an ominous hint of what’s to come in the rest of the novel.

Full review.

Mrs. Julien’s Book Exchange Post – HUZZAH!

Mswas GiftThank you, Mswas for the lovely presents and the homemade card. (Can you read it? “You’re no verra sensible, Sassenach, but I like ye fine.”) I should probably reread the Outlander books now that I’ll know the correct pronunciation of the Gaelic words. Then I can make charts and graphs for comparison purposes when the show comes out and I hear how they pronounce things.

Given how much Mswas and everyone else have loved it, I am very much looking forward to The Book Thief and promise to review it for CBR6.

Thank you to Jen K for organizing the exchange.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #110: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

I bought this novel in May because the cover caught my eye (and the pages are lined blue), and then didn’t even read it until September – I hadn’t heard anything about it when I bought it but over the summer, it started getting quite a bit of favorable buzz. Waiting was such a mistake – this novel was totally amazing, and I have only one small complaint about it, but I’ll get to that later.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #109: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

I haven’t seen much buzz on this novel which surprises me because it was definitely one of the more enjoyable books I’ve read this year. There are certainly a few I would rank above this so I’m not entirely sure if this would make my top 10 for the year, but I have a soft spot for novels about readers and people that love books so naturally, the title alone caught my attention. It’s interesting to me how given all the technology that is a part of life now, that all it takes is to set a novel ten to twenty years before the present day, and things that would be completely nonsensical today work again. For example, it actually has to be explained now if characters can’t get in touch with each other at any time. However, place it in the ’90s and practically no one had a cell phone so it doesn’t even have to be acknowledged.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #108: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I loved Moyes’s previous novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover, and though I would say that I didn’t like this one as much, it was still a very pleasant read. Me Before You is both better and not as good as The Last Letter from Your Lover. The earlier novel had a parallel story line setup with a story set in the 50’s/60’s as well as one set in the modern day, and the one focused on the earlier timeframe was just amazing. Nothing in Me Before You was as strong as that relationship or story but this novel as a whole was definitely much better than the modern day part of The Last Letter from Your Lover. In fact, I was a bit worried before I started this because the modern day characters in The Last Letter didn’t appeal to me as much, so I was a bit skeptical about an entire novel in the modern era. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded, and overall this is a strong story.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #107: Vinegar Hill by A. Mannette Ansay

This novel’s title may sound familiar because it was a part of Oprah’s book club back in 1999. The novel was actually originally published in 1994 which I didn’t realize until I was looking at the different versions available on Amazon. I guess I was under the mistaken impression that the book club is a mix of new novels (for that year, at least) and classics. Having said that, I can definitely see why this novel was selected for the book club.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #106: The Dinner by Herman Koch

While this was a well-written novel, I don’t think I would ever actually recommend it to anyone. The characters were absolutely despicable and didn’t have any redeeming qualities. While I know that is a complaint leveled against Gone Girl as well, I actually enjoyed Gone Girl and figuring out its twists – in other words, it had something other than the characters going for it. This book on the other hand didn’t have anything in it other than the characters whose actions just made me feel slightly grimy for reading about them. For me, it’s a novel that I would love to discuss but I don’t actually want to put anyone through reading it to make that discussion possible.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #105: Broken Harbor by Tana French

While scanning through other reviews, I noticed a lot of people were disappointed with this novel (it’s one of the reasons I waited to read it), but I actually enjoyed it. The main character may not be as likable or sympathetic as some of French’s previous protagonist, but I enjoyed the slow build up, and the eventual revelations about Scorcher’s past and family life. Like all the other detectives in French’s novel, Scorcher has a background that is a bit more complex than one might expect. In his case, he has a younger sister that is unstable of whom he is very protective. Usually, he can manage to maintain his bearing and keep his private and professional lives separate but this time, his sister has a break down right when he is working a high profile case that happens to have occured in a location that is important to their childhood.

Full review.