Blog Posts by mothic

Posted by mothic on 01/03/14
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While I read many excellent books this year these five stand out as the most interesting and memorable.
5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Night Film is a must read second book from the author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics. This non-stop story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the death of the daughter of a reclusive filmmaker will have you on the edge of your seat. It felt like reading a Hitchcock story with a bit of Stephen King mixed in.
4. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Set in Tokyo during World War Two, you will be rooting throughout this epic novel for its 15 year old protagonist, Yoshi Kobayashi.  Yoshi and five different characters experience a harsh journey through the time surrounding the firebombing of Japan in 1945.  The beautifully developed characters and the far reaching impact their decisions have on each other’s lives will stay with you long after you have set this book aside.
3. Tenth of December : Stories by George Saunders
George Saunders’ collection of short stories has a real-life quality to its story telling. Each one pulls you in and gives a small glimpse of a seemingly ordinary moment, which, after further reflection, reveals itself to hold much greater importance.  I am normally not a fan of the short story format but this collection was an exceptional example of the genre.
2. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable
When Ben Constable receives a letter from his best friend, Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa, telling him that by the time he reads it she will be dead, it is just the beginning of a string of clues to an intricate scavenger hunt from Paris to New York. As Ben works his way through the many puzzles, he begins to question how well he actually knew his friend and what type of illicit activities she might have been involved in.  This is a completely unique story that you will want to go back and start again as soon as you finish reading the last page.
1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
This story of two doctors trying to save a little girl takes place in a small Chechnyan village over the course of five days. It is hard to believe that this is Anthony Marra’s first novel. It is a heart-wrenching and poignant story written with exquisite prose. I was constantly stopping to mark phrases that beautifully conveyed the emotion of the moment so I could read them aloud to my husband.  It is the story I loved more than any other this year with characters that are bound to stay with me for a long time to come. Be sure to pick it up in the New Year if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet.
Posted by mothic on 12/22/13
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It always seems that princesses, whether they are the Disney or the Buckingham palace versions, have enviable lives. They live in palaces, have beautiful wardrobes, and marry handsome princes. But in Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s book, Princesses Behaving Badly, we get a fascinating peek behind the magical curtain and learn that not all princesses live fairy tale lives.
McRobbie takes us from the fifth century Black Sea to current day Great Britain telling quick three to four page stories of princesses who are everything from pirates to bank robbers. These short stories are an enticing introduction to princess lore. Each story provides a tidbit of information that leaves you wanting more.

Overall I enjoyed the stories and think that both teens and adults will be entertained by this book. It is a fine introduction to the real life stories of princesses throughout history.

Posted by mothic on 11/15/13
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Do you like to debate what makes art “art”? Then this is the story for you. This family drama introduces us to the Morels -Arthur, Penny and Will. They are a complicated group whose problems seem to stem from their strong feelings about art. When Arthur publishes his second book, a barely fictionalized account of his life with a shocking ending, his whole world turns upside down.
This story challenges us as reader to think about how we define art and how far we are willing to stretch that definition. An astute observation by a character in the book is that she sees “art and commerce at opposite ends of the hall.” This seems to be the thrust of the debate in this book. The Morels is a complex, layered story that I enjoyed even though the middle becomes a bit bogged down with background information and occasionally the writing feels heavy-handed (such as naming the main character “Art”). The ending, however, is surprising and intriguing and completely worth the wait.
Posted by mothic on 10/17/13
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Let me start by saying that I don’t like to be scared. I was 14 the last time I watched a horror movie and A Nightmare on Elm Street truly did give me nightmares for a week. So I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the horror genre. Help for the Haunted, however, provided just the perfect level of creepy without venturing into Jason Vorhees jumping out of a closet territory.
In Help for the Haunted, Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence. And while the Mason’s story is firmly rooted in the supernatural world, this truly is a coming of age story.
Sylvie and Rose Mason are compelling characters whose struggles with finding their place in their family and in their world are written in an authentic and relatable way. From the moment Sylvie and Rose’s parents are killed, I was invested in this story. I felt like a detective who was finding clues and needed to keep going to help these two lost girls. Each new clue added layers that deepened the mystery and revealed the secrets that the family members had hidden away within themselves. While all of the clues didn’t add up perfectly, the story is eminently entertaining and readable with characters that you can’t help but root for. Don’t wait for Halloween! Read it now.

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