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Next to Love: A Novel

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This book followed the lives of three women who grew up together in the same town and the different paths their lives take during and after WWII. While some of it was the stereotypical events (love, loss, courage) we think of during that time period, the author did a good job of digging into the psyche to show the inner workings of the woman and her home life - something that I at least haven't seen done that frequently. We always talk about how the fighting men from this generation took forever to talk about what they saw, but I think the women still don't really talk about it because it's home life: private, especially for a generation taught not to air dirty laundry. As a current military spouse it was interesting/nice to see that some of the feelings that occur when a husband leaves for combat still apply...they're not generational, they're inherent.
Margaret from Maine

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I had mixed emotions about this book. I don't like the idea of a spouse 'walking away' from another spouse, or having a weekend fling, but I don't pretend to imagine what happens to someone emotionally when their partner is still alive, but for all intents and purposes is not 'here'. It wrapped up rather quickly and I'm not sure I liked it - especially after such detail was previously put into pointless parts. I would have liked to see the author make a decision for his characters rather than cop out and leave it open-ended for the reader to decide.
Notes From A Small Island: Journey Through Britain

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This is a really good read about some of the different towns in Britain. I have been to some of then but not all. Bryson does a good job explaining how different yet alike they are as pieces within a whole, as well as how the fabric has shaped the people and vice versa.
Neither Here, Nor There: Travels in Europe

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In this book, Bryson takes a journey through Europe that somewhat follows his original backpacking journey 20yrs prior. It is wonderful to see his reflections from then to now, as well as see his thoughts on new cities he hadn't previously gone too. Once again I was laughing out loud throughout the trip, all the while updating my list of places to go and things to see. A must read for those wanting to visit Europe.
The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way

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This book breaks down language into history, word-trading between languages, parts of speech, silly moments, and intricacies of certain languages. The previous sentence would have you believe it's rather boring, but it's truly far from it. Some of the ways we come up with words, and the ways we make certain parts of speech harder on ourselves, is downright laughable. A good and worthwhile read, especially if you want to have a chuckle or two and learn something in the process.
The Odditorium: Stories

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This is an interesting collection of short stories. Not all of them were my cup of tea, but a good read nonetheless. The author writes well and certain passages were so detailed I felt as if I were there myself.
What I Did: A Novel

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This is an interesting story written, quite literally, from the perspective of a 6-yr old, misunderstandings of words and all. I think some might have a hard time with settling into reading something written in the way a 6-yr old would think, but once I let my brain settle down into it, it was no difference than getting into the styles of victorian era writers, or more recently - Jonathan Safran Foer. The story follows his thought process around some events that occur in his life that make CPS be called on their family, or whatever the British version of that is, and how a 6-yr old used to running around and getting bumps and bruises translates their questions about getting hurt.
A Thousand Pardons: A Novel

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This book seemed to have a lot of ideas that just never got anywhere. The mom is back on her feet and doing well by halfway through the book, so I was interested to see what the other half would hold. Unfortunately, that's about where the plot line blew up into a thousand streams of unfinished consciousness. The dad slowly becomes likeable in my mind because the (minimal) actions you see from him show him trying to atone, although in odd ways, but you never see it come to fruition. A side character slowly becomes a main character and then the book ends without you ever knowing what happened to him. The mom presumably might not have a job anymore by the end of the book, and I can't tell if she really cares or not. The daughter, as others mentioned, is a stereotypical teenager, so you don't really ever care much for her one way or the other. The most I can pull from it is that the author was going for a "reversal of roles" but just didn't follow through well enough for that to work out or be entirely evident to the readers. I actually went back and re-read the last handful of pages just to make sure I didn't miss anything that clarified the ending better. Nope. Just strange.
Room: A Novel

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This was a very interesting novel about the life of a mom and son inside a room, and what life is like for someone (the son) when you grow up only knowing that room as the entire world. It also makes the reader think about what might be the most he/she could handle, because all in one fell swoop the world as they knew it came crashing down.
The Secrets of Mary Bowser: A Novel

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This book chronicles the true story of the life of a slave girl, Mary, and her family in Richmond prior to and during the Civil War. The slaveowner family, originally from the north, has abolishioner tendencies and decides to provide a better life for Mary: freedom, private school, and fine cultural experiences. These new opportunities come at a cost, however, because not all of her family is freed. With new knowledge comes even greater responsibility and action against the Confederates to help the Union with the war.
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