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.

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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.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #104: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

I thought the concept of this book sounded great – epistolary format, two women, two generations, two wars.  The idea of exploring the effect of two wars on two generations that directly follow each other just sounded like such a great idea.  What similar issues would they face on the home front, what would be different due to time and the evolution of warfare (obviously the Blitz and the targeting of the civilian population would be a huge change)?  What would it be like to have lived through a war and loss only to watch your daughter face the same things?  Additionally, there were comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which was such a sweet book.  It was a bit quirky but I completely connected to the story and the character and was drawn in.  Unfortunately, I think the comparisons were mostly made due to the war time setting and the epistolary nature of the narrative.  This was more of a regular war romance, though I guess maybe the descriptions of the one character’s college pranks could qualify as quirky (he was a University of Illinois grad, which may have been my favorite thing about the book – ILL-INI!)

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #103: Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve been enjoying this series a lot, but some reviews on Goodreads made it sound like this was one of the weaker entries in the series.  I actually quite enjoyed it, possibly because I had tempered my expectations.  This time Eve is the narrator, a character that has so far mostly only appeared as a topic of conversation since she is dead.  However, Armstrong opened the door to the afterworld in Industrial Magic, so Eve’s appearance is not a complete surprise.  Since Eve is a ghost, this means that there is a limit on how many of the other characters show up in the novel, but Eve’s motivations are driven by her daughter’s safety so I actually enjoyed this slightly related side story.  Besides, Jaime Vegas is a necromancer so Eve soon convinces her to help, and it was fun to see more of her.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #102: The Expats by Chris Pavone

What a frustrating and disappointing book!  I wasn’t expecting great literature, but I really thought this would be a fun thriller or cat and mouse game set in Europe.  At the worst, I thought it might be a bit formulaic or have bad writing but it was worse.  It was boring.  A thrill-less thriller, an unsuspenseful suspense novel inhabited by a main character that could just as well be described as the dumbest spy ever.

Full review.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #101: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Considering that I read this a few months ago, I’m not quite as late to the party as it looks, but I’m still rather late.  As much as I enjoyed Attachments, and as much as I trusted everyone else’s recommendations, I was still a bit skeptical.  I think this might be because almost every other piece of YA I’ve read is on the dystopian or fantasy side of things.  How could a story about two teenagers in the ’80s be that exciting or groundbreaking?

Full review.