Sunday, February 27, 2011

100 Word Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

I cannot recall how or when I ended up with this book.  Well, since it is on my Kindle, I obviously purchased it at some point (probably when my Kindle was new and it was oh-so-fun to download books....it's actually still really fun to download books...way too fun).  I'm sure amazon.com suggested it to me based on my buying history, which is why I'm a bit confused:  this book is like nothing I've read in a long while.  Too long a while.  So, once again, amazon.com knows me better than I know myself.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is a rare find.  I found it completely delightful and entertaining.  I didn't think books like this were written anymore!  I'm so glad Alan Bradley, as a new novelist at seventy years of age, decided to write it.  I'm also delighted that there are two other books in the Flavia de Luce series.  I will definitely read them soon.  By the way, one of the best things about this book is Bradley's mastery of the English language.  I must have used my Kindle dictionary thirty times throughout this book, so get your Webster's ready if you don't have an e-reader with a built in dictionary.  It made me long for Americans to speak like the characters in this book...with a British accent, of course.  This old-fashioned murder mystery is wonderful and would make a great book club read.  Be sure to pick it up (or load it down). 
Here's my 100 word review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

A sleepy English village...
An eleven-year-old sleuth, obsessed with chemistry...particularly poisons...

A reclusive, widowed father...lonely and haunted...
A loyal jack-of-all-trades...

A dead bird...a one-of-a-kind stamp...a blackmail attempt...a body in the cucumber patch...and a bicycle named Gladys...

Flavia de Luce is precocious, fearless, intelligent, independent, and just a bit mean-spirited. 
Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and Nancy Drew rolled into one.

A throwback mystery without gore, over-the-top violence, sex, and rough language.
 
The humor is palpable...and very British.

Absolutely refreshing and completely charming.
 
Fabulous!

(100) 










       

Saturday, February 19, 2011

100 Word Review: When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is a middle-grade (5th-8th) novel set in New York City in the late 1970s (ahhhhh....those were the days).  This novel may be aimed at middle-grade readers, but adults will love it.  It is as much mystery as it is science fiction, but it really doesn't matter what genre you want to assign it:  it's just plain great.  I have told my eleven year old daughter that she will be reading this book soon...right after she reads A Wrinkle in Time (my first and favorite sci-fi novel).  No, you don't have to have read Wrinkle to enjoy this book, but if you have read Wrinkle, When You Reach Me is even more enjoyable.  It makes me want to read Wrinkle again....in 1979.  I also think they should bring back the $20,000 Pyramid.  I loved that show. 

Here's my 100 word review of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

A 6th grade "latch-key kid"...
She's read A Wrinkle in Time dozens of times...
Her mom is going to be a contestant on $20,000 Pyramid...
Her best friend doesn't want to be friends anymore...

Now she has to pass by the crazy laughing man alone on her walk to and from school...
And, someone has been leaving hidden futuristic notes for her...

Nostaligic...Magical...Poetic...Clever...Sophisticated...Realistic...

Richly drawn characters...Beautifully woven story...Age-accurate voices...

Is time travel possible?
I, as the reader, was transported back to 1979, so I guess it is.

Well deserved Newberry winner.

(100)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

100 Word Review: Those Who Save Us

This is certainly not your typical WWII book.  I really didn't know what I was getting into, but this is a real page turner.  I had seen Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum on numerous book club lists and "best of" lists and decided to give it a try.  Little did I know:  this is one of those books that changes the reader.  Blum makes you ask, "What would I have done?" many times throughout this heartwrenching story.  How many millions of women were in the shoes of Anna during WWII?  Their stories are mostly lost now, but Jenna Blum has managed to give many of them a voice.  I don't think I could recommend this book to just anyone, although I think just about anyone would benefit from reading it.  The portrayal of the brutality of the Nazis is hard to swallow and very graphic in parts.  But, it's the truth and so much of this book is about trying to find the truth...even if it's horrific.  No matter how many times I read an account of the Holocaust, it never gets easier to know what man can do, and has done, to man.  I wish I believed that stories like this would someday not need to be told.  But, as George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  We must never allow that to happen, so I, for one, will keep reading stories like this one.

Here's my 100 word review of Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

A new perspective on the Holocaust through the fear-filled eyes of German citizens.

Powerful storytelling of Nazi brutality and a mother's sacrifice of everthing she has to save her daughter.


Devastating emotional choices with generational consequences.

Haunting...Shocking...Complex...Riveting...Vivid...Courageous...

An existence centered on desperation...degradation...humiliation...manipulation...
          
A mother's silence...to protect her daughter and attempt to forget the past.
A daughter's search for the truth.
When no one will tell us the truth, our mind will fill in the blanks for us. 
The actual truth could be easier to bear than the truth we create. 

(100)

Friday, February 4, 2011

100 Word Review: These is My Words

Why did I not know about this book before now?  How did I miss this little jewel for so long?  I love historical fiction, so you think I would have had this on my TBR list a long time ago.  It was published in 1998 (which only seems like a couple of years ago to me), but I had never heard of it until Amazon.com suggested it for me recently.  Thank you, Amazon!  You were right again!  This is a wonderful book for many reasons, but mostly because of the clear and empowering voice of Sarah, the "narrator".  I will definitely read the next two books in the series.  Hopefully my short review will convince you to pick up These is My Words by Nancy Turner.  I'll guarantee you won't want to put it down once the story gets rolling along (in a covered wagon, of course).
 
Here's my 100 word review of These is My Words

A 19th century tale of the frontier, the importance of family, genuine love, and heartwrenching loss.
An emotional twenty year journey told through Sarah's journal entries.

Colorful, unforgettable characters...
An enduring love story...

Beautiful...Sweeping...Raw...
Painful...Honest...Harrowing...
Charming...Funny...Romantic...

Through Sarah, author Nancy Turner wraps words around the real emotions surrounding marriage, motherhood, family, and friendship that sear into readers.

A wonderful emphasis on the importance of, and desire for, education.

This story made me smile, gasp, and literally sob; but mostly, it warmed my heart and made me remember to appreciate each day.

An absolute treasure.

(100)