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Search tags: read-other-books-by-this-author
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review 2017-07-27 04:45
Cruel Beautiful World
Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel - Caroline Leavitt

This is a painful, heartbreaking story about expectations, disappointments, love and secrets. When Lucy leaves her already fragmented family to run away with William, her 30-year-old high school English teacher, she has no idea how isolated her life will become. (Time out a second - What is it with students and their high school teachers? I loved mine, but I never wanted to run away with them. I know they were nuns, but still.) While the story is primarily Lucy's, Leavitt gives vibrant life to each of her characters, who face their own demons and regrets with grace and dignity.

 

As usual, Leavitt delivers a beautifully written story, moving in its courage, raw emotion, and unflinching hope. William's selfishness and immaturity made me wonder why Lucy, a young, beautiful girl, would stay with him. Then I listened to this NPR interview that someone kindly posted on Goodreads, and I understood it a little better. This is not an easy story to read, but it is moving and thought provoking, and it is worth the effort you will have to put into seeing it through its final pages. Not because it is hard to read, but instead, because Leavitt has created a world so real that you will worry about these people until the very end, and then, maybe even a little bit longer.

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review 2017-07-27 03:47
The Wonder
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue has the unique ability to place the reader in a precarious, uncomfortable and psychologically fraught situation — it is utterly compelling, and almost equally frustrating. In this story set in the Irish Midlands, Donoghue's characters are perfectly balanced; so that while there are certainly "good guys" and "bad guys" in a traditional sense, many of them cross the line back and forth between the two. There is a danger here in giving away the story with the small details, but I usually try to avoid that anyway. When I first finished this book, I could only comment on Goodreads that it was disturbing, and I needed time to recover. I have had some time now, but I'm not so sure I have recovered. Don't let that stop you from reading this book. In fact, it should make you go out and get it right now.

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review 2017-07-05 04:45
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - Lisa See

It's been a while since I read a Lisa See book. I had a digital copy of this book thanks to NetGalley, but I opted to listen to it when I had the chance. Sometimes, when there are foreign names and places, I prefer this, rather than have the voice in my head stumbling over unfamiliar words. This was a well done audio book, but not my favorite Lisa See book of the bunch I have read - Snowflower and the Secret Fan is probably still my favorite.

 

In any case, I did learn a lot about the ethnic minority Akha people and the tea growing region in China, and the characters were interesting and unique. There were some things that didn't jibe for me, including the fairly open-minded views about sex in the culture, but then an almost complete ignorance of how these actions relate to procreation. Despite Li-yan's age and far flung experiences, she still seemed incredibly immature even as she aged throughout the story. I found the historical aspects and the details of the tea industry fascinating, but there were other parts that were predictable and repetitive that distracted from the story.

 

I was reminded of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland (I saw the movie, not sure if I would recommend it, unless you need a reason to drink) while reading this book because I had the same shocked reaction to discover that the story took place in the present day. Li-yan's village has barely seen a car in the 1990s; when an actual date was finally mentioned well into the story I was stunned — I thought I was reading about a culture from the 1800s. So yes, Lisa See once again presents a compelling topic and a wealth of information, and for that reason I look forward to the next book she has to offer.

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review 2017-06-29 05:47
Booked
Booked - Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander paid a visit to our school this year, and every child received a copy of his book. For some reason I did not jump on this one as quickly as I did The Crossover but that is by no means a telling detail —it just got put in the wrong to-read pile (in the to-read-later, instead of the to-read-now).

 

Reading it this week I was again reminded of how blown away I was reading Crossover. I couldn't put it down, and then, I didn't want it to end. 

 

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review 2017-06-29 05:21
Hag-Seed
Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan, so when I saw a new book with her name on it I did not even bother to read what it was about. Who cares? Margaret Atwood could write a software manual and I would read it. Maybe you feel more discerning than me, I'm ok with that. I've read at least half a dozen Atwood books by now, (with more on my to-read pile) including a crazy, ingenious, zombie story on Wattpad, and I have yet to be disappointed.

 

Hag-Seed continued that trend. Of course, Atwood tackles The Tempest, why not? She is certainly up to the task. I read some of this book (courtesy of NetGalley) and I also listened to the audiobook. I laughed out loud as Atwood weaves a tale of bizarre vengeance and unlikely heroes, which all works toward a strange and perfectly satisfying resolution.

 

This book is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare collection, which has Shakespeare's plays reimagined by today's celebrated writers, including Anne Tyler, Tracy Chevalier, and Jo Nesbø, among others. Several of these are already on my to-read pile; you should check them out as well.

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