Book Review – Orphan Train

15818107Title- Orphan Train
Author- Christina Baker Kline
Published-  2014
Genre- Historical fiction, literary fiction
Length- 320 pages
Rating- 4.5/5
Synopsis (Amazon) – Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Review – I really enjoyed this book!

The main character is Vivian and her story is told both in the past, and in the present, where it intertwines with Molly’s story. For quite a bit of the book I thought there wasn’t much point to Molly, Vivian’s story could be told without her, albeit in a different way. Molly does however serve a purpose towards the end of the book! The inclusion of Molly makes this come across as a YA book, which apparently it isn’t meant to be. If it wasn’t for that I would have probably given it 5/5.Read More »

Book Review- The Cider House Rules

51mIqtmmJ6L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title- The Cider House Rules
Author- John Irving
Published-  1986
Genre- Literary fiction, contemporary
Length- 684 pages
Rating- 5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Raised from birth in the orphanage at St. Cloud’s, Maine, Homer Wells has become the protege of Dr. Wilbur Larch, its physician and director. There Dr. Larch cares for the troubled mothers who seek his help, either by delivering and taking in their unwanted babies or by performing illegal abortions. Meticulously trained by Dr. Larch, Homer assists in the former, but draws the line at the latter. Then a young man brings his beautiful fiancee to Dr. Larch for an abortion, and everything about the couple beckons Homer to the wide world outside the orphanage.

Review- After reading and loving A Prayer for Owen Meany I was a bit scared to read more John Irving in case I didn’t like it, I didn’t want John Irving to be ruined for me! Anyway eventually I gave in and picked this up, and I loved it. Read More »

Book Review- Sold

201114Title- Sold
Author- Patricia McCormick
Published-  2013
Genre- Literary fiction, YA
Length- 278 pages
Rating- 4/5
Synopsis (Amazon)- Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though they are desperately poor, Lakshmi’s life is full of simple pleasures: playing hopscotch with her best friend, looking after her black-and-white speckled goat, having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when Lakshmi’s family lose all that remains of their crops in a monsoon, her stepfather says she must leave home and take a job in the city. Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India full of hope for her new life, proud to be able to earn, daring to hope that she will make enough money to make her mother proud too. Then she learns the unthinkable truth: for 10,000 rupees she has been sold into prostitution.

Review- Only after reading this did I realise it is considered YA. At first given the subject matter I was horrified, but actually, it is written in a fairly “tame” way. Provided you have no issue reading about the subject matter, the delivery won’t be a problem. This book isn’t graphic. It is very clear that forced prostitution is going on, it couldn’t be more clear, but there isn’t really a lot of description about it. Instead, how the main character feels about it all is the focus.Read More »

Book Review- Little Deaths

33911791Title- Little Deaths
Author- Emma Flint
Published-  January 2017
Genre- Crime, literary fiction
Length- 307 pages
Rating- 3.5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman–and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance–or is there something more sinister at play?

Review – This book is, in many ways, deeply upsetting, and I don’t just mean because of the dead kids.Read More »

Book Review- All the Good Things

32792758Title- All the Good Things
Author- Clare Fisher
Published-  June 1st 2017
Genre- Contemporary, literary fiction
Length- 240 pages
Rating- 4/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing. What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Review- I received an ARC of this from the publisher so thank you to them.

This story is told from Beth’s perspective, mostly as if she is talking to her child. The majority of it is told in the past tense but that is interspersed with present day therapy sessions and time in prison. It is well done and easy to follow.Read More »

Book Review- The Leavers

30753987Title- The Leavers
Author- Lisa Ko
Published-  May 2nd 2017
Genre- Contemporary, literary fiction
Length- 352 pages
Rating- 3.75/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

Review- I received an ARC of this from the publisher so thank you to them.

Overall I did enjoy this book but it felt long and the end dragged a bit.

This isn’t an action packed book by any means, instead it focuses on description. It is told from two view points, that of Deming/Daniel, and his mother. It covers both past and present in the US and China. Mostly the switch between characters and times was well done but there was one chapter where for a few (kindle) pages I didn’t know who the narrator was supposed to be. The language however was always easy to understand and there was never too much information given at once, characters were introduced gradually etc so there was never any confusion about who was who.Read More »

Book Review- Bodies of Light

20329476Title- Bodies of Light
Author- Sarah Moss
Published-  2014
Genre- Historical fiction, literary fiction
Length- 309 pages
Rating- 5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Bodies of Light is a deeply poignant tale of a psychologically tumultuous nineteenth century upbringing set in the atmospheric world of Pre-Raphaelitism and the early suffrage movement. Ally, is intelligent, studious and engaged in an eternal – and losing – battle to gain her mother’s approval and affection. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a religious zealot, keener on feeding the poor and saving prostitutes than on embracing the challenges of motherhood. Even when Ally wins a scholarship and is accepted as one of the first female students to read medicine in London, it still doesn’t seem good enough.

Review- I received this from my book subscription service The Willoughby Book Club as my May book.

I loved this book, really loved it, so much in fact that I have already looked up the author on Amazon and either bought or added all of her other books to my wish list.Read More »

Book Review- Breakfast at Tiffany’s

9889

Title- Breakfast as Tiffany’s
Author- Truman Capote
Published-  1958
Genre- classics, literary fiction
Length- 100 pages
Rating- 4/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

Review- Despite it being a classic I had no idea what this book was about going into it.

This book is really short and you could easily get through it in one sitting. The writing is good, my only complaint on that front is that sometimes with the dialogue it was difficult to know which character was speaking.

A lot happens for such a short book, the action isn’t all saved for the end either, it is fast paced throughout, which is unusual for a classic. The story is interesting, unrealistic maybe but it’s fiction so who cares.Read More »

Book Review- Everything I Never Told You

23398763

Title- Everything I Never Told You
Author- Celeste Ng
Published-  2014
Genre- Contemporary, literary fiction
Length- 305 pages
Rating- 5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

Review- It is difficult to know what to say about this book. When a book is this good it’s hard to find any faults with it, meaning that other than gushing praise, there isn’t much to say.Read More »