Book Review: Love Child

Love Child

Sheila Kohler

Penguin

256 pages

Bill has gotten used to the absence of her husband, who died a few months previously.  She has inherited quite a fortune upon the passing of her husband, and his solicitor is now breathing down her neck to write a will of her own.  The problem is Bill does not want to follow the attorney’s wishes and leave her fortune o her two sons.  She has never had a close relationship with them, wish is evidenced by her visit to their boarding school, where the two boys try to ignore her and the shame she causes them.  Although Bill has yearned for a more solid, loving relationship, she has never understood her boys, and vice versa.

Bill wonders at first who to bequeath the fortune to, but the answer quickly comes to her, and in that revelation, we learn more about Bill and her background. As her history unfolds, her relationships and decisions start to make more and more sense.

This was a quiet but powerful book.  It felt more like a novella to me, and I read it in 1.5 sittings. Although there wasn’t a lot of action, Bill’s story gave me a lot to think about.  Unfortunately, Love Child didn’t make as big of an impact on me as I expected.  It had me pensive throughout, but once I finished the book, the details started drifting off and I couldn’t remember the gist of the book until I read a synopsis of it.  Luckily, everything came flooding back at that point.

Two superficial aspects of the book that I feel I need to comment on.  First off, I LOVE the cover.  It is so evocative and really details the time and place of the book. One thing I didn’t love was the name Bill.  I understand it was a nickname, but whatever meaning the author intended it to render, I don’t think it did.  Instead, it just irritated me, because I can’t reconcile the name Bill with an adult woman.  It didn’t ruin the ambiance of the book for me, but I found it to be a confusing annoyance.

Love Child certainly has its pros and cons. Despite its flaws, I would recommend it.

Other Reviews:

Readin’ and Dreamin’

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

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Book Review: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

Amor Towles

Viking Adult

352 pages

Katey Kontent is a working girl living in New York in the 30s.  She is living in a boarding house with her friend Eve, and the two girls are enjoying life.  They don’t have much money, but they appreciate what their lifestyle affords them.

The two girls are out one night at a local restaurant listening to a jazz band when they meet a man named Tinker Grey.  Tinker is a wealthy banker who seems to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and his charm and wit enamors both girls straight off.  The threesome become fast friends but both girls seem to be battling a silent war for Tinker’s affections.

Plot wise, I have only touched on the very beginning of the book (we’re talking first thirty pages or so!), but I think all the little twists and turns of the novel would be spoiled were I to go any further, so I will let you all wonder where the book goes from there.

Katey seemed so innocent at the beginning of the book, but as Rules of Civility wore on, her characterization seemed much more dynamic.  There were some flaws in her character, but they seemed so real. She seemed so self assured, yet some of the decisions she made had me wondering whether or not she was doing what was best for her, or whether she was bowing down to the wishes of others.  Other times, her decisions seemed impetuous and too headstrong, which made me uncomfortable.  Yet all her flaws  only added to the realistic portrayal.

I was insanely impressed with Towles’ debut, and the way he drew me in so effortlessly.  The characters all had their issues, and at times I wanted to shake each and every one of them.  At the same time, I was transported into Katey’s world.  Even her workplace(s) had me intrigued.  I loved the insight into the secretarial life, which was more indicative of the time period than maybe anything else.

I will certainly read more from Towles, as this was a stunning debut.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket

The Girl From the Ghetto

The Literate Housewife Review

Medieval Bookworm

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

The Sunday Salon: 08/07/11

Another Sunday.  They seem to roll around quicker and quicker.  I have to work today, so that’s really all my plans consist of.  Maybe I will get some reading done later tonight, maybe not.

I recently got some new books, so I thought I would go ahead and share.

The top book, In Search of the Rose Notes, was sent to me by the publisher to participate in a tour for TLC.  I am actually planning on starting it today, and I am really looking forward to it.

The next two books I purchased from Barnes & Noble the other night.  My husband and I went to the local shopping center to get take out and we spent some time browsing.  Napoleon”s Privates is a book I have had my eye on for a few years, so when I saw it on the bargain shelves, I snagged it ASAP.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children piqued my interest straight away.  The incorporation of vintage pictures, coupled with the cover and the storyline have me convinced I will love this one.

Lastly, I picked up some books at Borders.  They were 30%, plus I took advantage of my Borders Reward card, since it ceases to be of any value today, which gave me an extra 10%. Call me dense, but I had no idea that Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Tom Thumb were written by the same author! The former has been on my wishlist since it came out because tons of bloggers wrote very positive reviews.  The latter was just published and from the very first review I saw of it, I knew I had to read it.  My expectations are sky high!

Have you read any of the books I got? Please spill it and let me know your thoughts!

Book Review: The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies

Mary Horlock

Harper Perennial

368 pages

I should’ve told the truth from the start, but the truth is slippery, like soap in the bath.

Cat Rozier is your average teenager, in the sense that she rarely tells the truth.  Ok, ok, so maybe that is a little harsh, but I keep hearing Judge Judy in my ear harping about how you know a teenager is lying when their mouth is moving.  But I digress . . .

Cat has done a horrible thing.  She murdered her best friend Nic by pushing her off a cliff.  No one realizes it’s a murder, and it is assumes that Nic either committed suicide or accidentally fell from the cliff after imbibing in too much alcohol.  Meanwhile, Cat has made it very clear that you can’t really trust anything she has to say

I was aware, as I was saying it, that I’d got the facts slightly muddled, but I didn’t like to backtrack.

An unreliable narrator is something I usually enjoy, and I appreciated it in this instance but by the end of the book, I was starting to get irritated by Cat.  She and Nic had really bad attitudes, and their maliciousness towards one another, as well as toward their peers, disgusted me.  It was very realistic, so in the end, I though the author excelled, but Cat’s lack of growth by the end of the novel made it a bit much. I still didn’t know what to believe, so even though there seemed to be closure, I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to take it seriously.

The Book of Lies was a duel narrative, with the other portion of the book telling the story of Cat’s uncle, Charles Rozier, mostly through a manuscript but also through personal letters.  The book takes place on the island of Guernsey, and Charles’s story took place during the Nazi occupation.  Charles was a teenager who put his family in grave danger due to his naivety, but as his story unfolds and more facts come to light and it gave me much cause for reflection.

The occupation story bored me at first, and I was always anxious to get back to Cat’s narrative.  Probably about 3/4 of the way through, that all changed, and I was voracious for Charles’s story.  I wish there had been a bit more balance in that sense, and that I would have enjoyed each portion throughout!

I think The Book of Lies is a great debut, and although it had its flaws, it was a remarkable story.

Other Reviews:

Bibliophile by the Sea

Book Addiction

Jenn’s Bookshelves

I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

Alfred A Knopf

576 pages

Leisel Meminger is a young girl growing up with a foster family during WWII in Molching Germany.  She has had a tough time, after her mother giving her up and the death of her younger brother, not to mention the fact that she is coming of age during a very serious war.  Her hope pervades all things though, and she does not let the destruction around her plummet her into despair.  Instead, she uses reading as a tool to help her cope with the chaos around her, and her insatiable appetite for books causes her to use every opportunity to snag a new book.  Thus, the book thief is born.

It feels a little counter intuitive to go any further with the plot, as it has been hashed and rehashed a thousand times in a thousand other reviews, but I must mention the fact that The Book Thief is narrated by Death.  Yes, you read that right: Death. In fact, that was probably the single most reason I picked this book up in the first place, along with the fact that every blogger known to man has seemingly read it and sung its praises.  Let’s face it, the Holocaust is a bit overdone.  For that reason, I tend to avoid books if they appear to be just another story about the Holocaust, so that special spin with the choice of narrator made me suspend my disbelief and finally pick this one up.

I will admit that in the very beginning of The Book Thief, I was skeptical. It took a little while for it to work its magic, because I just couldn’t understand where it was going to go and how the narration was going to work.  I just kept telling myself to give it a good shot because I was very confident that all the hype would pan out.  Luckily, I was right.

Liesel’s story is like none other you will read.  She is a very loveable character; even Death has a soft spot for her.  The trials and tribulations she endures are heart wrenching, yet you know she is a tough girl, and through all the desolation, hope reigns supreme.

This was the choice for my book club’s July meeting.  I was the one who picked it, which always adds a little stress because I live in fear that they will all hate the book (ahem, The Elegance of the Hedgehog).  It turned out to be a great choice because it was a quicker read.  Two of our members had babies in June, and even they were able to finish it.  The response was resoundingly positive, and we were all touched by the ending.

Let me just end by saying the hype is completely warranted.  I think I may have been the very last blogger to actually read this book, but if I am mistaken, I implore those of you who have not read it to definitely do so!

Other Reviews:

At Home With Books

Lit and Life

Eclectic/Eccentric

Devourer of Books

Care’s Online Book Club

Book Journey

things mean a lot

A Book Blog. Period.

The Zen Leaf

I purchased this book from Half Price Books.

July Monthly Wrap Up

The end of another month . . . where does the time go? Although I am a bit sick of the unbearable heat, it will be winter soon enough, and that is scary! Ally goes back to school in two days, not to mention that she’ll be in SIXTH grade.  It’s a bit shocking, really.  But anyway, enough rambling.

July was an ok month for me.  I read a total of 7 books, which isn’t great but it could be worse.  Overall, I can’t complain.  The following books are what I finished over the course of the month.

Christine Falls, Benjamin Black

Wishing for Snow, Minrose Gwinn

The Kid, Sapphire

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Before I Go to Sleep, SJ Watson

The Book of Lies,  Mary Horlock

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles

Five of the seven books were for review, either via TLC Book Tours or Netgalley.  That is a pretty high number for me, but I am definitely not complaining because I enjoyed them all.

I don’t have any concrete plans for August. I would like to amp up my reading amount a bit, as my goal for the year is to read 100 books and I am just over half that.  It is time to play catch up!

Earlier in July, I decided to forgo all the reading challenges I had previously committed to, and that has made my reading a lot more relaxed.  The only challenge I plan on working on is the Europa challenge, but even so it is very low pressure and I’m not beating myself up over it if I don’t finish.

Does anyone have any super exciting plans for August?