The Lowland – Review

 The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Published in 2013

Pages: 415

Genre: Contemporary fiction

“East of the Tolly Club, after Deshapran Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque.”

The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri, weaves through years and across oceans to create a narrative that is universal despite the specificity of the culture from which the characters originate. There is a kaleidoscopic element to the human experience that is captured and translated into the words within this novel. Pay attention; you might miss something. Continue reading “The Lowland – Review”

In the Woods – Review

In the Woods by Tana French

Published in 2007

Pages: 429

Genre: Mystery, thriller

“Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s.”

If you enjoy this idyllic vision of a summer day featuring the laughter of children in the background, Dixie cups filled with Kool-Aid mix lemonade, and the well-earned scrapes and bruises from an afternoon of playing, do not continue reading. In the Woods, written by Tana French, twists this picturesque scenery into a crime novel that takes the reader on a journey down the dark paths of malleable memory and the little lies we tell ourselves to make it through each day. Continue reading “In the Woods – Review”

Wishful Drinking – Review

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Published in 2008

Pages: 156

Genre: Autobiography, memoir, humor

“So I am fifty-two years old.”

Many people around the world felt waves of sorrow and grief for Carrie Fisher in the wake of her death last December. It is a strange thing to read a memoir by a deceased person in which they make a joke about their eventual death, but it isn’t all doom and gloom in Wishful Drinking. This autobiography gives the reader a glimpse into the unreal world of a member of Hollywood royalty while simultaneously showcasing Fisher’s quick wit. Continue reading “Wishful Drinking – Review”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Review

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Published in 1969

Pages: 290

Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography, African-American literature

“I hadn’t so much forgot as I couldn’t bring myself to remember.”

Most people wouldn’t choose to begin their autobiography by telling the story of a time they wet themselves in embarrassment, but Maya Angelou was not like most people. The anecdote that begins I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings sets the tone for the first in a series of autobiographies about her life. Deeply poetic and honest without restraint, Angelou writes with passion and conviction while letting us into the delicate truths of her childhood. Continue reading “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Review”

Song of Solomon – Review

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Published in 1977

Pages: 337

Genre: African-American Literature

“The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent promised to fly from Mercy to the other side of Lake Superior at three o’clock.”

Song of Solomon follows Macon “Milkman” Dead III in his quest to find identification in a world still very divided by skin color. From Milkman’s birth to his open-ended fate, the book chronicles a family whose roots lie farther south than their home in Michigan. When he is told that there may be gold in them thar hills…I mean, hidden in a cave, that his father and aunt found when they were young, Milkman sets off on a journey that leads him closer to himself than he thought was possible. Continue reading “Song of Solomon – Review”

The Art of Neil Gaiman – Review

The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

Published in 2014

Pages: 320

Genre: Nonfiction, biography, coffee table book

“Neil Richard Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960, to David and Sheila Gaiman (née Goldman) above a grocery store on White Hart Lane, Portchester, a small town in Hampshire on the southern coast of England.”

The Art of Neil Gaiman is a nonfiction book written by Hayley Campbell; I simply call it a nonfiction book because while it deals with fiction, it is in itself about Neil Gaiman and his career. However, I’m not sure if I should call it a biography since I honestly don’t remember the last biography I read and Campbell herself refers to it as a coffee book in her writing, so the task of classification is a difficult one.

What it definitely is, though, is a glimpse into the storied (intentional pun, I assure you) career of one of the most prolific authors of our time. Spanning the spectrum of written media, The Art of Neil Gaiman is a comprehensive look at how words, stories, and art have woven together to create a beautiful tome in tribute. Continue reading “The Art of Neil Gaiman – Review”

The Handmaid’s Tale – Review

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Published in 1985

Pages: 311

Genre: Dystopian, speculative fiction

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.”

The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a dystopian future where a religious sect has taken over the United States of America and transformed it into the Republic of Gilead. Patriarchy reigns supreme and a bastardized version of Christianity is the law of the land. Due to this, the Handmaid’s job is to be the sacred vessel for the coming generations. Read: used strictly for procreation. These Handmaids are indoctrinated and made to do their “duty” (awkward and uncomfortable sex) through unquestioning faith. The main character, Offred (whose name is based on the name of the Commander that she serves. Literally meaning “Of-Fred”, it is more of an identification of property. Other characters are named Ofwarren and Ofglen), recounts her experiences as a Handmaid and through her recollections pieces together the change undergone by an entire country and culture. Continue reading “The Handmaid’s Tale – Review”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Published in 2007

Pages: 759

Genre: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy

“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”

*SPOILER ALERT*

Dumbledore is dead and has set Harry on a quest to destroy the seven Horcruxes (items imbued with parts of Voldemort’s soul) in order to defeat the Dark Lord and bring order to the world. He is not alone in his quest, Hermione and Ron are with him through the tough times though each has their misgivings in the pursuit of their goal. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows marks the ending of an era in the world of storytelling. The stakes are at their highest while nothing is certain but death and the end of the story for our heroes. Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Review”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Review

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Published in 2005

Pages: 652

Genre: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy

“It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continues building toward the eventual climactic confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. After the battle in the Department of Mysteries in The Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore reveals that the prophecy foretold that the only person who can defeat Voldemort is Harry. His sixth year at Hogwarts finds numerous changes in the form of Professor Snape now teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry finding a potions book with notes in it written by the unknown “Half-Blood Prince” that helps him present himself as a potions prodigy, and the responsibility of being Quidditch Captain. Along with these changes, Harry begins private lessons with Dumbledore in order to arm themselves with knowledge to use in their fight against Voldemort. Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Review”