Category: Book Genres

Mini-reviews: The Night Watchman, The Glass Hotel, and The Lost Man

You may know I’m not a huge fan of mini-reviews. All three of these books deserve a full review. But given limited time, all three were really great reads so I wanted to share my thoughts. The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich I loved…

Review: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I didn’t know if I’d like this book, but I found myself listening to it at every opportunity and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  It’s the story of Vanessa, a fourteen year old in a boarding school in Maine who has a sexual relationship with her English teacher .  Years later, when other victims come forward and they look to her for support, she doesn’t know how to respond. This is her story, told over 17 years.

I’m finding it much harder to describe this book than I thought I would, because the words we use for sexual abuse (like rape, and victim, and power) are so important, and that’s what makes this book so interesting and so challenging.  Vanessa loves Strane and refuses to see herself as a victim — yet Strane is clearly manipulating her, and the effects on Vanessa as both a teen and an adult are absolutely devastating.  As are the many ways school authorities and even Vanessa’s parents fail her.

Top ten books I wish I’d read as a child

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is actually something I’ve thought a lot about: books I wish I’d read as a child.  There’s something so completely different about reading a book as a child — really falling into the story and characters and making…

Review: The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

If you’re looking for a book that explores the horrors of the Holocaust but does so in a really beautiful way, I recommend this book. It begins in Berlin, where a mother, Hanna, is trying desperately to save her daughter Lea.  She learns that there…

Review: The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

This book about a Palestinian family in Chicago, Illinois begins with a school shooting.  Afaf, the principal of a school for Muslim girls, is praying when the gunman opens fire.  Then the book goes back to Afaf’s childhood.  Afaf is raised in Chicago in…

Review: No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder

I’m adding this book to my list of nonfiction books I wish everyone would read.  It addresses the many misconceptions about domestic violence, like: It’s a relationship issue, not a crime. It’s not that bad, or she would leave. He doesn’t seem like a…

Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I enjoyed and appreciated this character-driven family drama by Claire Lombardo.  I read it for my book club, which didn’t end up happening last month, and that was actually good because I never would have finished in time.  It’s a long one — but…

Review: The Herd by Andrea Bartz

As mystery/thrillers go, The Herd has an interesting premise.  Eleanor is a beautiful and successful woman who created The Herd, which is a woman-only workspace and social clique.  It’s basically a boy’s club without the boys.  Her three closest friends, Hana, Katie and Mikki,…

Review: Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

I found this a really interesting read about what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant in Australia. Adiga tells the story through the eyes of Danny, who has fled his native Sri Lanka after torture. He comes to Australia through a school program,…

Review: Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This is a book I think most of us should read, though it’s definitely not an easy read. In 2015, Chanel Miller went to a party at Stanford.  Two guys found her unconscious on the ground near a dumpster, with a guy on top…

Review: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

I’ve been recommending this book a lot lately, especially to my friends with daughters.  There aren’t that many books out there that feel fresh and original, and this one did.  First, a major disclaimer: I am NOT the target audience for this book.  It’s…

Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

I have a list of recent Austen adaptations I want to read, like Ayesha at Last, Unmarriageable, and Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors.  I’d seen great reviews of Pride by Idi Zoboi and was happy to find the audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo.  I thought her…

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