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Archive for August, 2013

Sisterhood

I was pretty disappointed in this historical fiction book, considering I think I discovered it on one of Amazon’s “Best of [Month]” lists.  The Sisterhood is split between two time periods – 1) the Inquisition in Spain in the 16th century, and 2) Spain in modern times.  The story set in the Inquisition is far and away more interesting than the modern times story, since the modern times section contains so many coincidences that it is just too hard to believe (even acknowledging that it is fiction).

The Sisterhood is a  group of nuns from a Spanish monastery that shield its secrets – namely that it takes care of daughters/ young women / former brides needing refuge from the men of the time (i.e., fathers looking to marry them off or men looking to beat them into submission), regardless of those women’s religious beliefs.  The Sisterhood’s secrets are in a leatherbound book and a corresponding medallion.  These two items eventually find their way to a related convent in South America, and ultimately end up in the hands of Menina, an orphan in South America who is adopted by a husband and wife from the southern US.  As a college student Menina travels to Spain as part of a research project into art history and lo and behold, she ends up at Las Golondrinas convent – the convent  as the location for both storylines.

Again, while the storyline in the 16th century was at least interesting, the interplay between the two time periods was so unbelievable as to provoke a muttered “Really?” from this reader!

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WheredYouGoBernadette

Laugh-out-loud, cute, adorable, hilarious, quick read…  Have I written enough buzzwords so that anyone reading this review will immediately pick up this book? I hope so, because that’s the point – I LOVED it!!!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is the story of Bernadette, mother to Bee, a 15-year old girl, and Bernadette’s husband (Bee’s dad).  The three live in an old rundown former girls’ school in Seattle.  Bee’s dad, Bernadette’s husband, is a bigwig at Microsoft, and he and Bernadette moved to Seattle after he developed some products (i.e., they have plenty of money, but Bernadette, an architect, has not gotten around to fixing up their living arrangements).  The story is told via correspondence between Bernadette and old friends, Bernadette and her ‘personal assistant’ in India, and emails between other people in Bernadette’s life (primarily two mothers of other children at Bee’s school).  The main point of all of the correspondence is to see Bernadette’s craziness (quirkiness?) – usually kept hidden behind her big sunglasses and written correspondence (instead of physical interaction) – beginning to surface.

I love that Bernadette’s tale is told through correspondence and also through first-person stories told by Bee.  She is adorable, and her mother is – even though weird – a very likeable character.  For a very enjoyable read, I highly recommend Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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OceanAtTheEndOfTheLane

A quick little read, I really enjoyed this fantasy/ real-life fiction book! The main character is a lonely seven year old boy who doesn’t get along with his younger sister and prefers instead to read books high up in the trees in his backyard.  One day he meets his neighbors, the Hempstocks, and his adventure begins.

The Hempstocks are three women (well, 1 old woman, 1 motherly-age woman, and 1 girl – known as Grandma, Mother, and Lettie).  Lettie befriends the boy (who is not named!) and the boy soon begins to realize that something odd exists at the Hempstock farm.  It is like they are in a world all their own, even though they are right in the land next to the boy’s house.  Some kind of hemispheric-monster comes onto the Hempstock land, and before Lettie can banish it, a piece of it gets into the boy.  As a result, the monster reincarnates into a nanny hired by the boy’s parents.  The nanny then proceeds to torment the boy and seduce his father.  Only with the help of the Hempstocks can the boy rid himself of the awful nanny.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the boy is remembering these events as he has gone back to the Hempstock land as a man after his father passed away.  Even though there were a few ideas that were a little out-of-this-world, the book made it easy to try to picture all of the wild events as they occurred.  I really enjoyed this speedy little fantasy novel!

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