Book 56: The Girl With No Shadow (Chocolat #2) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - The Girl with No ShadowAs I said in my response to Chocolat, I had no idea there were sequels and I’m so glad I decided to read them. I haven’t started the third, Peaches for Father Frances, but I’m excited to start it soon.

Harris takes the story of Vianne and Anouk we followed in Chocolat and expands the age-old battle between good and evil. Instead of the church, this time Vianne and Anouk, now Yanne and Annie, are battling evil itself and magic takes an even more prominent role in this story than in the first. And I was glad she did! She writes about magic in such a way as to make it beautifully common.

“It took me a little longer to recognize these things as magic. Like all children reared on stories, I’d expected fireworks: magic wands and broomstick rides. The real magic of my mother’s books seemed so dull, so fustily academic, with its silly incantations and its pompous old men, that it hardly counted as magic at all.” (67)

Beautifully common, might sound like an oxymoron or an insult, but it’s not. Harris’ writes about it so matter of fact and sets it up that way in this novel, common usage versus evil usage, that you can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the magic she chooses to write about.

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Book 54: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence – Doris Pilkington Garimara

Garimara, Doris Pilkington - Follow the Rabbit-Proof FenceI know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.

My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?

I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I would say there are quite a few books out there about the Stolen Generations, but I’m not sure how many are first hand accounts. And that is where this story truly hits home. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is as much Garimara’s story as it is her mother and aunt’s. And to find out at the end that her mother made the journey a second time with one of her children and the incredible journey in the book and movie becomes that much more powerful.

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Book 53: Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - Stone MattressAtwood is an incredible writer and story teller and there’s really not much more that needs to be said, so when I saw her newest collection of short stories I knew I had to request it! I received a copy from the publisher, in return for my honest opinion:

Spectactular.

That would be a little cruel, to leave it just at that even though it would still describe it perfectly. Below, you’ll find a one-to-two sentence review of each of the nine tales and a single quote from each.

On a different note, if you haven’t heard Margaret Atwood is the first author of the future library! This is a project where authors are asked to write a work and it won’t be read for 100 years. This makes me both incredibly happy, as she writes such fantastic speculative/near future fiction, but also sad that I won’t be able to read it! It’s a fascinating project and I could go into it in detail, but really you should just read about it at The Guardian.

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Book 51: That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week – Ana Homayoun

Homayoun, Ana - That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last WeekEven though I am incredibly organized, I often think I can be much more organized and wonder how other people stay organized, so when I first heard about this book from Ann on Books on the Nightstand I knew I had to get a copy. I loved the title and wanted to read more about it the organizational suggestions. I grabbed a copy from my local library and here I am.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it’s set up like many other self-help books: suggestion, how-to, summary and any worksheets or tools you might need. :, does a great job of offering many suggestions for every hurdle, which is great. There weren’t too many new tips or tricks that I felt I could use, but what I found great (and could see where it would help out a teen or pre-teen) is that she explains WHY you should do some of the organizational things you are told to do and doesn’t just tell you to do them. I also really enjoyed Homayoun holistic approach to organizational management for teenagers, from health and fitness to school and extra curricular activities she really pushed for the young men to take control of their own lives and schedules.

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Book 49: L’America – Martha McPhee

McPhee, Martha - L'AmericaHonestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used random.org to select my next book.

Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the paragraph long sentence that was the final sentence of the novel. Not fun.

I think where I struggled to enjoy the book and where the author struggled to write the book was in converting an excellent idea into a manageable and digestible amount. Thankfully, the book wasn’t longer, but it really struggled through the first half. Beth felt like a whiny idiot (she was a teenager) and Cesare just felt frigid and unapproachable. This definitely changed toward the end, but it didn’t change fast enough or thoroughly enough to make me want to bump up my rating.

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Book 47: Confessions from a Coffee Shop – T. B. Markinson

Markinson, T. B. - Confessions from a Coffee ShopAnd she’s back! Now don’t get me wrong, Markinson (TBM)’s last novel, Marionette, wasn’t bad and was excellently written, it just wasn’t for me. However, Confessions from a Coffee Shop harkens back to A Woman Lost in humor and fun! I flew through this and couldn’t help but smile the entire time I read this novel. I received a copy from the author and received no compensation for my response. If this review sounds at ALL interesting you should request a preview copy from her here.

I said above that TBM is back and the reason I say that is because she’s return to what she knows and what I can assume is a comfort zone for her. I don’t fault her one bit for stretching her writing muscles in her second novel, but I’m so glad she returned to her strengths!

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Book 42: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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