New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – Book Review

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

This is a re-telling (as part of the Hogarth Project) of Shakespeare’s Othello.  This tale takes place in an elementary school, and the children are cast as the characters.  New boy, Osei, is the only black child in the school – this takes place in the 1970’sl.  His father is a diplomat, and he’s lived all over the world, and is thoroughly sick of being the “new boy”.  The most popular girl in school, Dee, decides to be his friend.

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The entire story takes place over the course of one day, so everything happens much quicker than in the play.  I actually liked this novel, although I was appalled, as I usually am, when adults are being so obviously manipulated, this time by a student named Ian, who has quite the reputation for causing trouble.

I don’t want to go into the story too much, as we all already have a good idea of the ending.  However, I enjoyed it very much and thought this novel is another good addition to the Hogarth Project.  Well done, Chevalier!

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A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates – Book Review

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As is typical of many of Oates novels, this is a difficult one.  It’s difficult to read, difficult to think about, and stays with you for quite a while afterward.  Just to let you know, it was a wonderfully written novel, the plot and character development were terrific, and I really really like it when novels make me take a hard look at society and my personal beliefs.  This novel does that.

Here, Oates takes on the abortion issue by giving voice to both sides by dealing with both the family of a slain abortion doctor, and the family of the murderer who shot him.  Oates delves into the religious beliefs of Luther Dunphy and his family while giving the same respect to abortion provider Dr. Augustus Voorhees and his family.  This novel was really outstanding in regard to the two daughters, Naomi Voorhees and Dawn Dunphy.

I really don’t want to go into detail about the novel, since I don’t want to give anything away.  Suffice it is say that Oates gives us information galore on both sides of the issue, while also developing the plot and characters.  I have to say, she is a wonder as a writer, and I continue to be amazed with every novel published.

I highly encourage you to read this novel, regardless of your personal beliefs concerning the issue of abortion. Well done (once again), Oates!

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Joyce Carol Oates

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – Book Review

Stardust

I listened to this novel on audio with a full cast, and it was just delightful!  I loved the fairy-tale, fantasy and characters.  There really was something new and different around every corner (or on the other side of the wall, to be truthful).  There is a small love-affair, leading to a baby being delivered to Dunstan Thorn (the father), from fairy-land nine months later.  Once this child is grown, he promises his lady-love he will bring her a star to prove his love.  Tristran sets out into the land of fairy in search of his star.

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Meanwhile, there are three brothers all vying for the crown their father left behind.  These are dastardly men, each possessed with a burning desire to be king.  Many adventures follow, most of them extremely funny, however I don’t want to give any of the plot away.

I highly recommend this novel.  I really enjoyed listening to it, the audio was done exceedingly well.  Another good one, Gaiman!

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Neil Gaiman

 

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent – Book Review

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This is one of those novels that you will be thinking about for a long time after reading.  While Fran and Nathan Hale have left the city of London, at Nathan’s insistence to move with their two children to the small town near where Nathan grew up, Fran becomes ever more isolated by her disapproving husband.  Quite quickly Nathan sells Fran’s car, takes her “broken” laptop to be fixed but never returns it, and continuously checks her cell phone to see who she’s been talking to.  There is a fear of violence that keeps Fran both cowed and frightened.  After finding his dead body outside their remote farmhouse, Fran is pegged by the police as the murderer, although they do not arrest her, they simply step up their harassment of her.

The mystery is many layered, full of various forms of abuse, misdoing and lazy police investigating.  I really loved the story-telling element of this novel along with the character development, and the twists and turns of the mystery.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done Kent!

Christobel Kent

Christobel Kent

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – Book Review

The Gril Before

This is a story about a high-tech, apartment totally controlled by a computer and its minimalist architect.  In order to be accepted as a tenant, you have to fill out a long application that covers what you think about certain things, how you react to them, and what you want your life to be like.  The lease is many pages long with rules that you have to obey or risk being evicted.  The lease basically seeks to control how the tenant lives her life.

This is a murder mystery/thriller all wrapped up in one very creepy package.  The novel follows both Emma “the girl before” and Jane, the new tenant with alternating chapters.  The descent into confusion caused by the apartment makes for riveting reading, especially since nothing is as it seems.  This novel kept me up, turning pages in an effort to discover its secrets.

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J.P. Delaney

I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Delaney!

 

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth – Book Review

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This is another dystopian novel, the first in a new series by the author of Divergent.  I must say that I enjoyed this novel.  This series takes place in outer-space with a whole new universe.  I loved the “world” building here, it was very complete with wonderful descriptions of the different worlds, peoples and customs.  Roth is very good at this, and I must commend her for it.

The two main characters, Cyra Noavek, sister to the ruler of the Shotet people, and Akos Keresth are completely different, having been raised in much different ways.  However, once they find a common ground, can they be stopped?

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This novel is full of rival families, political feuds and inter-world politics.  There is much going on and there is nothing boring about it.  I really enjoyed the world-building and character development Roth has created.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Roth!

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Veronica Roth

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall – Book Review

The Book of Polly

I absolutely loved this novel.  Polly is the “older” mother to Willow Havens, who is totally fixated on her mother’s death.  Of course, Polly is alive and kicking (in every sense of the word), but Willow feels that she needs to do everything in her power to keep her mother alive, both in the flesh and in spirit.  So, at eleven years old, she tells whoppers about her mother, for which she gets in trouble and sent to the school psychologists’ office.   Polly refuses to allow anyone to call her daughter a liar, and shows up at school with the express intent to prove her daughter is not a liar.  The ensuing scene is hilarious, and Hepinstall keeps us giggling while at the same time tackling the fear of a parent dying, long-held secrets, illness, shoddy police work, misogyny, adolescence, religion, and long lost love.

Wow!  This is a wonderful novel, and I highly encourage you to read it.  It is highly entertaining, extremely well written, and a total pleasure to read.  Well done, Hepinstall!

Kathy Hepinstall

Kathy Hepinstall